Videoconferencing Provides Access to Interpreters
A consortium of medical organizations, consumer advocates and technology companies on Monday unveiled an Internet video phone service for hospitals that allows patients to receive interpreter services, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The system was launched as a pilot project at San Mateo Medical Center, San Joaquin General Hospital and Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (Tribble, San Jose Mercury News, 8/8).
The Health Care Interpreter Network uses software developed by Cisco Systems in San Jose and a videoconferencing device made by Tandberg to connect doctors and patients with interpreters at different hospitals or other remote locations "within seconds," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Hospital executives said the system allows in-house interpreters to work with three to four times as many patients because they don't have to travel throughout the hospital or between clinics. In addition, hospitals will have a wider range of accessible languages by using interpreters at other hospitals.
Hospital executives declined to specify the cost of the system but said the devices used are relatively inexpensive, according to the Chronicle (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/8).
Other hospitals can buy into the program and immediately begin linking to interpreters (San Jose Mercury News, 8/8).
About one million HMO members in California with limited English proficiency are at risk of receiving lower-quality care because of language barriers, a University of California report released in May found (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/8).