Hospital implements video conferencing technology to translate for non-English-speaking patients

Tuesday, January 18 2011

Going to the doctor is often a confusing experience, as physicians spout medical terms and complicated Latin-based disease names that are difficult to understand for many of us. In fact, a visit to the hospital can be downright terrifying when you feel like you're not sure what's going on. If you couldn't speak English, the experience would be even scarier.

Luckily, one hospital in Glendale, Arizona, is working to make sure that every patient is able to communicate with doctors when it comes to his or her care.

The Banner Thunderbird Medical Center is using a Video Remote Interpretation, or VRI service, to ensure top-notch medical care, even for patients who can't speak or understand English. The system uses video conferencing technology with certified medical interpretation to communicate with hearing impaired patients, as well as patients who speak Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian, KSAZ reports.

"This new technology will increase our ability to respond in a timely manner to the needs of our patients with communication barriers," Paula Harsin, Banner Western Region cultural services specialist, told the source. She went on to say that the system has received positive reviews so far from the patients and physicians who have used it.

Phoenix, Arizona, is a popular destination for many immigrants, particular those of Mexican heritage. The city has the fourth-largest population of Mexican-Americans in the country, who make up nearly 40 percent of its population and many of whom don't speak English.