Advice for Health Care Providers. In-Person Interpreting vs. Phone Interpreting--Which Approach is Better?

November 7, 2016

 

Many clients have asked us about the difference between in-person interpretation and over-the-phone interpretation. Which communication platform is more effective or more efficient? Our experience has taught us that the answer depends significantly on the circumstances – or on factors that might impede communication in the vitally important health care setting.

 

In-person interpreting is highly preferred in these situations:

 

1) When the client has hearing and/or speaking difficulties

Speaking on the phone may pose difficulties for persons who have hearing/speaking issues problems. In this case, we recommend “live” or in-person interpreting.

 

2) When individuals need mental counseling

We strongly urge mental health providers to use in-person interpreters. Telephonic communication with a mental health patient, who may be easily confused or agitated, can be very problematic. 

 

3) When there are multiple attendees in one location

It can be difficult for interpreters to understand and communicate by phone when there are multiple parties involved at the other end of the discussion.       

 

4) When effective communication has a central visual element

Live interpreters are most needed when health care providers must see and/or discuss part/s of the body that are injured or causing distress.  In such cases communication must be direct and precise, and the in-person approach is most advisable. 

 

It is also crucial during physical therapy sessions, where patients must understand the therapist’s instructions clearly, and the therapist must understand the patient’s feedback. 

 

5) When communicating with children

Children may have limited vocabularies that could make it very difficult for interpreters to communicate with them over the phone. Unless an adult can speak on behalf of a child, it is advisable to have live interpreters available to facilitate clear communication with health care providers.

 

6) When patients are in the state of trauma

Victims of physical or mental abuse may have difficulty communicating about their issues over the phone. Usually, communication is most encouraged and facilitated when a language-capable person is assisting the victim.  

 

Although we always encourage in-person interpreting, especially in health care settings, we do provide qualified, experienced, phone-based medical interpreters.

 

Phone interpreting works well in the following circumstances:

 

1) Appointment scheduling, reminders, billing, and collection

Usually these tasks can be performed telephonically.   

 

2) When in-person interpreting is not available

Although our live interpreters are available throughout the Denver Metro area and Colorado, we might encounter situations (e.g., severe weather situations) where providing a qualified in-person interpreter is not possible. Rather than relying on unqualified interpreters, such as family members or friends, we strongly recommend the use of professional phone-based interpreting.   

 

At Colorado Language Connection, we provide trained medical interpreters to health care facilities on an as-needed basis.  We have an extensive list of highly professional multilingual interpreters who are available 7 days a week, on-site or on the phone, to assist your patients who have limited English proficiency.

 

Our on-site trained medical interpreters are available to serve translation needs for hospitals, physicians, clinics, and senior care facilities in Arvada, Boulder, Brighton, Broomfield, Castle Rock, Centennial, Englewood, Evergreen, Firestone, Frederick, Golden, Highlands Ranch, Lafayette, Lakewood, Lone Tree, Littleton, Louisville, Morrison, Northglenn, Parker, Sheridan, Thornton, Westminster, Wheat Ridge, and throughout ColoradoWith over 80 languages available, we can cover situations ranging from the most common languages, such as Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, and Japanese, to those less frequently encountered, such as Catalan, Kiswahili, and MaiMai.

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Call us for a free quote or to schedule a service today at 303-923-2945 / 303-923-6877 or email us at clc@apdc.org !  We look forward to working with you, for a healthier Colorado!

 

 

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