Telephonic Interpretation in the Healthcare Industry

Telephonic interpretation is critical to the healthcare industry. From doctors’ offices and pharmacies to hospitals and first responders, telephonic interpretation is often relied on when communicating timely and sensitive information. Without this service, many patients would not be able to get the necessary care. Telephonic interpretation offers instant access to translators that is available 24/7, making it an ideal service for an industry that relies on time and accuracy.

On-site interpretation isn’t always an option when communicating time-sensitive information, so telephonic interpretation is a quick and convenient way to accommodate translation needs for patients in a doctor’s office or hospital setting. Historically, family members sometimes served as interpreter, but often that person is not trained to translate medical terms, or that person may be too young to know or understand the appropriate translation. For reasons of accuracy, a trained interpreter is critical in making sure the patient understands the message the medical professional is delivering. Doctor’s offices and hospitals have begun to recognize the importance of professional interpretation.

Not only is professional interpretation important for a conversation between the medical professional and the patient, but it is also important for the emergency translation of medical records. Telephonic interpretation is a useful service in these instances as well. Emergency translation of medical records is often necessary for medical decisions to be made. Telephonic interpretation allows that to happen instantaneously by allowing both parties to understand the critical information in a timely manner.

The benefits of telephonic interpretation are also recognized by pharmacies. Dual handset phones or speakerphones are often used to accommodate both the patient and medical personnel. Using a dual-handset phone – a phone with two receivers – is often the preferred method so that the two parties do not need to pass the phone back and forth. Information exchanged can remain private and confidential this way as well. Accuracy is especially important in this scenario as information regarding dosing, interactions, and side effects of medications need to be clearly communicated.

The same general guidelines apply to the telephonic interpretation and in-person interpretation in the healthcare industry. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Conversations should be conducted in a private room via speakerphone or multiple handsets. Providing background information is crucial as well since the interpreter is not privy to visual cues in the room. You can find more best practices for working with a telephonic interpreter here.


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