With about 430 different languages spoken or signed in the United States, hospitals nationwide find it increasingly difficult to comply with federal laws requiring them to provide 24/7 language access to patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 9% of the U.S. population is at risk for an adverse event because of language barriers.
In a featured presentation at VUE19 today, Christopher Kirwan, PhD, talked about how his Medical Interpreter Services (MIS) department at Massachusetts General Hospital switched from pagers to Voalte smartphones to:
- eliminate “abandoned” phone calls from LEP patients, providers and interpreters
- reduce delays in care, and
- provide better experiences for the hospital’s providers, interpreters, staff and patients.
Before implementing the Voalte solution, MIS department coordinators were hard pressed to quickly and effectively coordinate interpreter services in 105 languages for nearly 800 LEP patients each day. They were receiving nearly 700 calls a day from providers, patients and interpreters and, because of this high volume, 14% of the calls were abandoned before they could respond.
The staff of 39 full-time and 40 per diem interpreters often needed to interrupt a patient encounter after being paged to find a landline phone and try to reach a coordinator. After a study in 2015 showed that these phone call logjams and inefficient communication methods were delaying care, the MIS department decided to discontinue using most of its 54 pagers (which were costing the department $18/month) and convert to Voalte smartphones.
The impact of this transition was immediate and dramatic.
- The number of “calls waiting” in coordinator queues dropped about 87%.
- In a survey of end-user experiences, 72% said communication with MIS coordinators had “greatly improved” since the adoption of Voalte smartphones.
- Even on the best day pre-Voalte, coordinators were handling only 88.5% of calls; with Voalte, 100% of interpreter messages are now being answered.
According to Chris Kirwan, his department’s Voalte solution has made the dispatching of interpreters to patients timelier and more effective, and has significantly improved patient access, especially in the Emergency Department.
To learn more about how Massachusetts General and other leading hospitals are taking full advantage of various Voalte solutions for connected care, see these real results.