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Overcoming Communication Barriers with Language Access Services

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Overcoming Communication Barriers with Language Access Services

Overcoming Communication Barriers with Language Access Services
Karen Robinson

Date: 08/31/2017

Understanding the diagnosis, complexities of the treatment plan and care instructions delivered by a member of a care team may be challenging for some patients and their family mem­bers. When the patient is deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or has limited English proficiency, the conversational barriers to their medical care may be even more difficult.

To assist these patients with their com­munication needs, The Johns Hopkins Hospital has updated its policy to ensure physicians, nurses, other clinicians and all staff are familiar with the available medical interpretation resources. Staff can access enhanced tools to support interactions with patients as well as their family members and friends involved in the patient’s care around the clock. They include:

Over-the-phone interpretation, which uses the phone to connect the patient and staff member to a qualified medi­cal interpreter (non-English spoken languages).

Video remote interpretation, which uses specially outfitted iPads to connect patients and providers with qualified medical interpreta­tion through real-time video transmis­sion (particularly important for sign language).

In-person interpretation, which uses a qualified medical interpreter who comes to the patient’s hospital room or doc­tor’s appointment to interpret for the patient and the clinical team.

Medical interpretation services are provided free to these patients and fam­ily or friends involved in their medical care. Collectively, these methods enable qualified medical interpretation in more than 200 languages.

“Patients have a right to a full under­standing of what’s happening and what’s needed during their care, and to par­ticipate in their own care,” says Susana Velarde, assistant director of operations, Language Access Services for Johns Hopkins Medicine International.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital, along with Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, all have updated their medi­cal interpretation policies, which address how to provide services for patients with additional communication needs. Employees at these hospitals are among the first to take required myLearning training about medical interpreta­tion services. Johns Hopkins Hospital employees’ training will begin soon and must be completed by Sept. 15.

The core requirements of these medi­cal interpretation policies will extend to the rest of the entities within the Johns Hopkins Health System in the next few months.

Learn more about Language Access Services at intranet.insidehopkinsmedi­cine.org/international/las-resources.