Breaking Down Language Barriers: The Impact of In-Person Interpreting in Healthcare

April 1, 2024 No Comments

To ensure communication between patients and providers who do not speak the same language, hospitals and other medical facilities need in-person interpreter services with translators versed in the medical field. This allows for an accurate yet personalized patient approach.  

Considering all that’s at stake, it should come as no surprise that in-person interpreting can have one of the greatest impacts in the healthcare field. According to a National Institute of Health (NIH) study, in-person interpreter services are beneficial when used at “admission, during patient teaching, and at discharge.” Let’s take a closer look at each milestone to see just how impactful in-person interpreting can be. 


In-Person Interpreting Upon Admission

Based on the study, the recommendation for in-person interpreting at admission ensures an accurate care plan. Healthcare providers can better understand the nature of the patient’s issues from the start, allowing them to address the most pressing concerns promptly.   


In-Person Interpreting in Patient Teaching

The NIH study reports that medication adherence is particularly crucial—and challenging. Some medications have different names in different languages, and written instructions often need translation since a patient may be able to speak English but not read it. This is where in-patient interpreting is especially beneficial in patient teaching. 


In-Person Interpreting During Discharge

Upon discharge, readmission rates decrease when a knowledgeable interpreter relays discharge instructions. Patients benefit when they clearly understand expectations regarding their post-visit guidelines. Accurate in-person interpreting also helps with care coordination going forward. 


Advantages of In-Person Interpreter Services in Healthcare 

In healthcare, effective communication is not just about conveying words; it’s about fostering understanding, trust, and empathy between healthcare professionals and patients. In multilingual and multicultural societies, language barriers often pose significant challenges in achieving this vital connection. In such scenarios, the role of in-person interpreter services emerges as a crucial bridge, facilitating seamless communication and ensuring that every patient receives the care they deserve. 

In this section, we delve into the benefits of in-person interpreting in medical settings, exploring how it enhances care outcomes, overcomes cultural differences, protects private information, and personalizes the approach to patient care.  


Improving Care Outcomes

Patient understanding in healthcare situations creates an environment of trust. This improves compliance with medication use, outpatient instructions, wound care, and many other important communications between doctor and patient. In other words, clear and accurate in-person interpreting in sensitive medical situations enhances the quality of care.  


Overcoming Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are just one of several barriers that exist in healthcare. A well-trained and highly educated translator provides in-person interpreting that understands the nuances and transcends language barriers. Navigating cultural differences requires sensitivity on the part of the translator. 


Protecting Private Information

Maintaining confidentiality when transmitting sensitive and private information is a cornerstone of in-person interpreting. The ethical basis in interpretation cannot be overstated. Avoiding personal opinions or biases is essential in creating trust between all parties and is made possible with help from professional in-person interpreters. 


Personalizing the Approach

In-person interpreting fosters a more personal approach, especially when considering nonverbal cues. More interactive and expressive interpretation connects healthcare professionals and their patients better. Cultural awareness also elevates nonverbal communication. 


What to Look for in Healthcare In-Person Interpreting

Addressing specific sensitivities is especially important in healthcare when hiring an interpreter. These are some minimum requirements to look for. These include: 

  • Experience and Qualifications: Rigorous training in the healthcare industry and a background working in the medical field.
  • Extensive Language Coverage: Having a wide range of languages ensures your needs are met. This includes having a large pool of interpreters as well.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: Time and place play a huge role in in-person interpreting. Knowing a trained translator can handle your business negotiation, legal proceeding, medical consultation, or educational event gives you peace of mind.
  • Confidentiality: Sensitive information should be handled ethically and discreetly, especially concerning the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Read more about how Geneva Worldwide complies with HIPAA with in-person interpreter services.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Understanding cultural nuances and nonverbal cues, especially when communicating medical instructions, medication rules, discharge instructions, etc., is incredibly important.
  • Professionalism: Unbiased and experienced in-person interpreting provides seamless communication between healthcare professionals and patients. 


Improve Your Patient Outcomes with Geneva Worldwide

Defy language barriers with Geneva Worldwide’s in-person interpreter services. With over 180 languages covered, we can meet your in-person interpreting needs. Contact us today at 212-255-8400 for a free quote or fill out a request form.