Iron Bow Technologies has been delivering health it education across the U.S. with its TED (Telehealth Education Delivered) mobile unit. As TED is making its way across the United States visiting hundreds of Veterans medical clinics and offices, we are taking the opportunity to talk with all of our TED partners about the many aspects of health it and how technology is evolving to help care teams, practitioners and specialists improve care, anywhere, at anytime. Ian Freeman, from Hospedia, recently shared with us on Iron Bow’s TechSource, how technology is making great strides in improving interactions at the bedside with patients from diverse cultures, while reducing costs. Here is what he had to say:
What are some of the barriers to patient care that are typically seen at the bedside?
Ian Freeman: The U.S. population is diverse with a vast number of languages. Ensuring that patients and clinical staff are able to communicate effectively often requires the involvement of qualified translators and interpreters. In many cases, patients with uncommon language needs can be missed, as few translators speak their language. The delays in locating an appropriate translator can have a significant impact on medical care and patient outcomes. In some cases, a friend or relative with some level of English language skill is called upon to translate, however this brings its own inherent issues. Their own biases, lack of understanding of medical terminology, or embarrassment may contribute to poor quality information being provided to medical staff, ultimately affecting the patient’s care.
So how can this language barrier at the bedside improve?
IF: Hiring in-house or local interpreters has traditionally been the only way for hospitals around the world to provide such a service, but the costs of doing so includes not only the translation activity, but also travel, expenses and waiting time between appointments.
Clinicians need immediate access to live interpretation services at the patient bedside and technology can enable this interaction on-demand, improving day-to-day life and making it easier for both patients and staff in hospitals.
How can the care team connect to interpreters on-demand?
IF: Leveraging health it solutions, such as Hospedia’s point of care platform, doctors and nurses are able to pick up the phone at the patient bedside and immediately be connected to a qualified interpreter. By connecting the care team with medically qualified interpreters in over 120 different languages, medical facilities have far more access than the traditional in-house translation service could hope to. Utilizing health it technology, patients will not slip through the cracks because their language is one not commonly spoken in the area in which they live.
Being able to access translation services at the patient bedside also saves considerable time. Immediate access to the service means that patients are not kept waiting for the availability of an appropriate translator, potentially saving lives in cases where rapid treatment is necessary. Communicating immediately reduces delays in the commencement of medical treatment, and clinicians are able to ensure the patient understands and consents to treatment without confusion or uncertainty.
How do you address any cultural sensitivities?
IF: Hospedia partners with thebigworld, which offers access to over 12,000 qualified linguists across the world and caters to patients’ cultural needs. In some cases, a patient may be more comfortable communicating through a member of their own sex – male patients may not wish to disclose medical information to a female translator, for example. Confidentiality is also key. With immediate access to qualified, dedicated medical translators, there is no need to rely on potentially inaccurate or misinterpreted information from untrained communicators such as patients’ friends or relatives, and patients do not need to disclose sensitive information that they may be uncomfortable discussing with a non-medical professional.
Tell us about the technology that enables this and other health it services.
IF: Effective translation services help to meet the needs of patients, both medically and culturally, providing a safe, effective and confidential experience. It requires the integration of bedside terminals that are connected. Utilizing innovative technology solutions will allow medical centers and facilities to achieve an improved service at a significantly reduced cost.
Here is how it works:
In the U.S., the Hospedia bedside terminals are fully equipped with an integrated webcam (as well as a separate VOIP telephone) enabling patients to use Google Hangouts, as part of the Patient Centered Care Platform.
Our bedside terminals have an integrated phone handset and a headset port. This way, the patient can talk into the phone and the clinician can connect to the headset, and translation happens in real-time. Google Hangouts allows the patient to use instant messaging, video chat, SMS and VOIP features to connect with family and medical resources, regardless of location. In addition, integration with a unified communication platform, enables authenticated single touch log-on so a clinician at the bedside of the patient can easily access on-screen contact details of all the physicians responsible for that patient’s care. Using the VOIP telephone handset attached to the terminal, the relevant physician can be called at the touch of a button – wherever they may be – or access their own unique address book, to make outgoing calls. Future development will include secure video conferencing.
Ian Freeman is Head of Corporate Marketing for Hospedia, an Iron Bow partner and sponsor of TED (www.ted2go.com).