Resolving Interpreter Shortages: AMN Healthcare Language Services Featured in Modern Healthcare
Medical interpretation is critical for the well-being of patients whose primary language differs from the healthcare provider – and yet, healthcare professionals are noticing a growing disparity in interpreter supply vs increasing patient and provider demand.
AMN Healthcare Language Services is an industry leader in patient interpretation, and we are proud to have been featured in Modern Healthcare. The article, “Medical Interpreters Face High Demand, Low Reimbursement”, written by Mari Devereaux, explores how we are making meaningful progress to solve the interpretation deficit in healthcare.
Consequences of Interpreter Shortage
AMN Healthcare Language Services and our client partners know the value in language services access in healthcare. Without adequate language services access, patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) have longer length of hospital stays by 1.5 days on average. Recent evidence also found that those same patients were 1.6x more likely to be readmitted within 30 days. With our industry-leading technology, including face-to-face interpretation via video call and on-the-go interpreter access via our app, we are improving patient care across the country.
Interpreter and VP of Language Operations at AMN Healthcare Language Services, Kat Jackson, pointed out a little-known consequence when medical interpreter supply is low: what happens when the patient’s family steps in as the interpreters. “Family members are inherently biased which means the patient’s right to impartial, unfiltered information from their healthcare provider is compromised. In some cultures, families may choose not to reveal the patient’s true medical condition for fear of upsetting or embarrassing them, or a family member may not want to admit they don’t fully understand the medical instructions, so a patient can end up taking the wrong dose of medication.
There can be cases of domestic violence, where the abusive partner protects themselves and acts as the ‘interpreter’ with the sole intent to prevent medical personnel from getting the full story. Especially in cases with young children being put in situations to interpret for their parents, they will often omit or change information, either because they simply don’t understand the vocabulary or because the content is embarrassing or sensitive and their instinct is to protect their parents.
Professional interpreters who follow a code of professional conduct, commit to remain impartial and true to the spirit and intent of the original message thus giving the patient full autonomy in their communication.”
How We are Solving The Interpreter Shortage
We dug further into the effects of language services in healthcare. The President of AMN Healthcare Language Services, Jacobia Solomon, shared, “cultural humility and language access will increase patient engagement and help reduce racial and ethnic disparities. It [language access] can improve communication by normalizing the use of interpreter services by giving autonomy to the patient, where care is delivered in a dignified way, and it can help bridge the gap and increase trust between patients, their families, and communities the healthcare providers serve. Trust and effective communication are key to Health Equity. Health equity is about humanizing the patient journey for everyone – see the patient, listen to the patient, communicate with the patient, and meet the patient where they are to ensure there is a clear pathway to achieve better health outcomes.”
Professional interpreters have been shown to improve overall care for LEP patients, including contributing to improved comprehension, clinical outcomes, and better satisfaction with the care provided. (Jacobs) To learn more about how medical interpreters improve patient outcomes, read our article, “Medical Interpreters Achieve a Rewarding Career Improving Patient Care”.
We invest in the attraction, retention and professional development of qualified medical interpreters. Our training and management teams are professional interpreters who understand the role and responsibilities of interpreters, the demands they face and how to support them in their individual professional journeys; it’s in our DNA. Our professional workforce is passionate about providing the best language access care for our communities and we make it our life’s work to end health disparities due to cultural or linguistic barriers.
Our Medical Interpreter Expertise
In the Modern Healthcare article, Jacobia gave an inside look at our company’s innovative technology and staffing solutions to solve this critical healthcare issue. “Developments in technology have facilitated greater flexibility and capabilities for interpreters in the medical field”, Jacobia explained. Jacobia continued to convey our strides in innovation, describing how we have evolved from only using standalone devices like iPads, to now offering an app for patients to access an interpreter.
AMN Healthcare Language Services will continue to build a better future for the industry and the patients we serve. In 2022, our 3,700 interpreters offered services in more than 350 languages during 15 million patient sessions across the nation. We are stepping up to ensure all patients have access to accurately communicated healthcare, and, ultimately, improve patient care.”
If you’re an interpreter who wants to make an impact with our established team of interpreters, visit our career page to apply.
If you’re a healthcare organization and want to learn how our healthcare-exclusive language services can improve patient outcomes, visit our language services page.
- Hickey, S. (2019, August 28). Healthcare Interpreting: Impact on Lengths of Stay and Readmission Rate. Nimdzi. https://www.nimdzi.com/healthcare-interpreting-impact-on-lengths-of-stay-and-readmission-rate
- Medical interpreters in outpatient practice. Jacobs B, Ryan AM, Henrichs KS, Weiss BD. Ann Fam Med. 2018;16:70–76