digital health equity

Improving language interpretation: How one hospital uses a tablet-based app

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Author: Beth Strohbusch, Equiva

In taking on a new role as manager of patient experience for a New York-based hospital, a nurse leader identified several opportunities to advance patient engagement initiatives. One focused on a key social determinant of health (SDOH): improving language interpretation.

In its summary of Language and Literacy as a SDOH, the US Healthy People 2030 initiative states that “trained interpreters and bilingual healthcare providers improve patient satisfaction, quality of care, and health outcomes for individuals with limited English proficiency. Overall, there is a need for health care providers and organizations to be more active in developing and employing strategies to meet the language and literacy needs of diverse populations.”

The patient experience manager evaluated her facility’s current state of language interpretation delivery and identified a cumbersome process to deliver audio-only interpretation services to day surgery patients. Clinicians faced several challenges including:

  • Landline telephone devices being used to set up three-way calls were stored in locked nurse’s station cabinets.
  • Devices had two handsets limiting the ability of anyone besides the patient and a single caregiver to interact in real-time with the interpreter. 
  • The devices supported audio-only interpretation.

After exploring options to address these challenges, a patient experience team learned that language interpretation services could be added to the hospital’s Equiva-powered tablets provided at all bedsides in pre-op and post-op patient bays. When deployed in May 2020, the tablets served primarily to provide entertainment in rooms where TVs were not provided.

“I could see how satisfying it was for nurses to provide tablets to patients and let them know they can stream TV, listen to relaxing music, mediate, read the paper, and play games,” the patient experience manager said.

The process to add a language interpretation application to Equiva tablets was quick and easy, and the benefits of improving language interpretation are plentiful. These include:

  • Workflow is streamlined and patients respond favorably.
  • Caregivers are better equipped to respond more quickly and thoroughly.
  • The hospital’s tablet functionality now extends beyond entertainment.

The manager described a recent situation where the technology supported a rapid response situation. After a visitor collapsed in a hallway, staff and code team members realized the patient did not speak English but rather Mandarin. “I quickly grabbed an Equiva tablet. Within seconds, we were live with a video-based interpreter. With this technology, we have no excuse to be delayed due to language barriers. The solution plays a critical role in helping us care for patients and it can even be lifesaving,” she said. 

Our industry is keenly aware that health inequities are far too prevalent. Equiva supports efforts to advance health equity by providing SDOH-centric solutions that can be delivered quickly, easily and cost-effectively. In this case, we address language as barrier to care. By providing one-touch, always-on access to interpreters via mobile devices, we enable patients, loved ones, and clinicians to collaborate in a highly effective and efficient way. We advance patient experience initiatives. And we support efforts to improve clinical and financial outcomes. 

Now’s the time to reduce digital health disparities and advance health equity for all.

Read this customer success story to learn more about this hospital’s challenges, solution and results

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NEWS RELEASE – Organizations can improve patient experience, outcomes and efficiencies by enhancing pre-op, day-of surgery and post-discharge engagement. “Tablets and mobile apps are increasingly used to make surgical care journeys more holistic. We see value in Equiva’s approach with these devices to improve access to educational materials as well as stress reduction tools, social services resources, language interpretation and more.”

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