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Published on November 01, 2010

Impressive New Technology Helps Break Language Barriers

ABINGTON, PA (November 1, 2010) — Abington Memorial Hospital is proud to be one of the first hospitals in the region to offer an exciting, new technology for patients in need of a language translator. The Video Remote Interpreter (VRI) is a new program that will drastically decrease wait times for patients facing language barriers, while reducing hospital costs.

The VRI technology – also known as ALVIN, short for: All Language Video Interpreter Network – provides patients with instant access to trained healthcare interpreters. The system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with coverage of more than 100 languages, including American Sign Language.

“Typically, when a patient requires translation services or a sign language interpreter to communicate with staff, an interpreter is contacted and dispatched to the patient’s side,” says Sabrina Harris, director, Diversity and Translator Services. “However, the process can take hours if an interpreter is not in the facility – due to the phone calls, travel, parking and any other obstacles that may come in the way.”

Now – when an interpreter is not available on campus – that entire process can take mere minutes. The VRI system utilizes wireless technology and videophones, mounted on a mobile cart. When an interpreter is required, the cart is rolled to the patient’s bedside and, with a few clicks of a remote control, is connected with a translator, face-to-face, through crystal clear video/audio conferencing. VRI allows patients with language barriers to communicate with caretakers in minutes.

So how exactly does it work? A request for an interpreter gets routed through the hospital’s Interpreter Services Department, searching for any interpreters who are on AMH staff. If no interpreter is available on-site, the system routes the request to a network of hospitals nationwide, all working collaboratively to provide patients with interpreter services at a moment’s notice. Interpreters can set up the VRI system right at their desk and offer their services to hospitals across the country instantly, without ever leaving their office.

Privacy – always a concern when dealing with new technology – is not an issue with the Video Remote Interpreter. In order for the patient to maintain their privacy while still utilizing the interpreter service, a shade attached to the camera can be used to cover the lens while a clinician is performing an examination. Additionally, all interactions with the Video Remote Interpreter are encrypted in compliance with HIPAA regulations, and all interpreters in the VRI network are certified to translate for medical interactions.

In addition to the convenience of the VRI system, the new process helps to alleviate costs. When an interpreter is physically dispatched to the hospital, a minimum two-hour fee must be paid. With the VRI system, the hospital is charged only for the time used – and AMH can get credit toward its monthly service bill when the hospital’s interpreters translate for other hospitals in the VRI network.

Currently, two VRI units are available at AMH, with additional units potentially being added in the near future.

With the Video Remote Interpreter, AMH now can offer patients the most innovative and advanced translation system in the region.

Welcome to the future of healthcare.

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