Alameda County Medical Center Installs Videoconference Devices To Improve Translation Services
Alameda County Medical Center last month implemented one of the nation's first videoconferencing interpretation systems at the medical center's Highland Hospital and plans to expand the program to its other hospitals and clinics, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Medical center officials say that the $5,000 devices are not intended to replace face-to-face translators but will help reduce wait times for patients who need translation services -- about half of all Alameda patients. So far, 10 units are in service at Highland's general medicine clinic, and the medical center plans to add 50 to 60 units in several other facilities, including San Francisco General Hospital and Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro. The devices allow doctors, accompanied by one of the center's interpreters, to communicate through a video screen with personnel at clinics or in other parts of the hospital. Alameda's 18 full-time and 19 on-call translators can then remain in one location while they work, which will increase efficiency, according to Melinda Parras, Alameda's director of communication, policy and planning. Physicians say they like the system's convenience, and interpreters say it offers a practical alternative when face-to-face translation is not possible. Parras said she hopes that once the system is fully implemented, Alameda will contract out its translation services to other facilities with the devices (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/5). The California Endowment provided more than $900,000 for the project, and the Office of Minority Health added another $350,000 (California Healthline, 3/3). The California Endowment also allocated nearly $500,000 to the University of California-San Francisco to evaluate the project (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.