TriHealth “Interpreter on Wheels” Ensures Language is Not a Barrier to Quality Care

TriHealth Language Services

“Interpreter on Wheels makes it possible for patients to receive medical care, in the language they prefer, at the point of care.”
– Dr. Barbara Tobias, Good Samaritan Free Health Center

The Health Collaborative is recognizing TriHealth Language Services as a finalist for the Gen-H Award, as part of the 2017 Inspire | Healthcare dinner and awards celebration planned for November 1 at downtown Cincinnati’s Renaissance Hotel. The purpose of the Gen-H Award is to recognize an individual, team, or organization that has demonstrated progress on the Gen-H goal of making the healthier choice the easy choice where we live, work, learn, and play. Gen-H, or “The Health Generation,” means all of us working together to make health and healthcare a value we share in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Solutions for meaningful communication
When seeking healthcare, it’s crucial for patients to understand the medical advice and treatment plans given to them by physicians and other caregivers.  To assist those whose primary language is not English, TriHealth Language Services offers a variety of interpreting services to support meaningful communication between patients, families, and providers. Among other services, they offer three full-time Spanish-speaking staff members to serve the area’s largest group of non-English speaking patients.

"Interpreter on Wheels" poster

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A variety of tools for broadest impact
Recognizing the value in employing multiple approaches to address the full spectrum of language needs, TriHealth Language Services focuses on improving communications through a variety of methods and technologies. For example, they work with contracted in-person medical interpreters and national networks of phone and video interpreters. Using remote interpreters ensures someone is always available, even when an in-person interpreter is not.

Language-specific phone numbers have been implemented for patients and families who wish to communicate with TriHealth in languages other than English. TriHealth operators can automatically connect the non-English speaking caller to an interpreter.  The interpreter stays on the line for the duration of the call and provides services and translations as needed. Languages offered include: Arabic, Cambodian, French, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Different languages & locations? No problem!
As a result of limited availability of local, in-person qualified medical interpreters, TriHealth is utilizing innovative on-demand video technology called “Interpreter on Wheels.” This tool makes it possible to have interpreter services in the exam room when an in-person resource is unavailable.  The Interpreter on Wheels has served more than 1,700 TriHealth patients to-date.

In addition, several iPads with interpretation services software were purchased through a grant from the Sisters of Charity and have increased Language Services’ ability to instruct and inform patients.

Interpreter service requests have increased from 17% to 20% between 2015 and 2016.  This increase is believed to be an indication and result of improved overall quality, service, safety, and compliance.

A story of personalized, empowered care

Dr. Barbara Tobias is Medical Director at The Health Collaborative, and serves as Vice Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. She practices medicine at TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Free Health Center, and shared the following Language Services success story:

Dr. Barbara Tobias

Dr. Barbara Tobias

“Interpreter on Wheels makes it possible for patients to receive medical care in the language they prefer, at the point of care, without the awkwardness of accommodating an extra person in the room,” shared Dr. Tobias.

“This is the story that has stayed with me: A young woman from Northern Africa came to the Good Sam Free Health Center for care, accompanied by her husband. She spoke an Arabic dialect. The nurse relayed that the woman’s husband had been her interpreter in all of her previous healthcare encounters. The nurse then asked if it would be OK if her husband again acted as her interpreter.”

“I had used Interpreter on Wheels a couple of times before, and offered the patient this option. To our surprise she readily said ‘Yes!’ She later explained that this was the first time she had been able to see a physician without her husband in the room.”

Dr. Tobias concluded, “The visit went well. The patient felt comfortable asking questions she had previously withheld, and I was able to take a comprehensive medical history which helped me determine the most beneficial treatment. I’ve seen the patient in follow-up and now she asks for Interpreter on Wheels! Thank you, Cori [Corinne Grandle, Linguistic Services Administrator] for providing this wonderful tool to enable our patients to get the care they deserve.”

Striving to meet the healthcare needs of every person
Interpreter services support the TriHealth values to respect all people and spiritual heritage, service excellence, and individual and community needs.  This service aligns with Gen-H strategies around empowering individuals to become knowledgeable consumers of health & healthcare services, as well as increasing the capacity in our region to meet the healthcare needs of every person.

Collaboration over competition
The Language Services team strives to create strong partnerships between qualified healthcare professionals and other local health resources, both public and private, supporting the greater good of healthier citizens within our community.

Meet the team

  • David Ache, Senior Client Technologies Engineer
  • Corinne Grandle, Linguistic Services Administrator
  • Mike Lonneman, Client Technologies Specialist
  • Justin Platt, Solutions Leader IT Network
  • Charles Spears, Server Engineer

Congratulations to the TriHealth Language Services team on its outstanding work toward achieving the Gen-H Triple Aim of healthier people, better care, and lower costs for ALL in the Greater Cincinnati region.

About Inspire | Healthcare:
Inspire | Healthcare is the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region’s premier annual healthcare event and awards celebration. The awards seek to recognize innovations by individuals, teams, and/or organizations in the areas of informatics, quality improvement, and population health. Other awards given annually include the Inspire Champion Award and the Hoxworth Blood Drive Awards, with separate nomination and judging processes. For more information about Inspire | Healthcare, visit healthcollab.org/inspire.

About The Health Collaborative:
The Health Collaborative strives to lead data-driven improvement initiatives that result in healthier people, better care, and smarter spending. Based in Cincinnati, we work with those who provide care, pay for care, and receive care, to find mutual solutions to healthcare’s most challenging problems. For more information about The Health Collaborative, visit healthcollab.org.

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