Special to “Federal Telemedicine News”

Author Lee Horner, Stratus Video Telehealth Division

How Healthcare is Improving with VRI

According to the Joint Commission, miscommunication is responsible for close to 3,000 unexpected deaths, catastrophic injuries and other health-related mishaps on a yearly basis. In order to address these problems and follow conditions from The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VI, healthcare has turned its eye to the innovative solutions coming from the tech industry.

The newest technology that hospitals and facilities are employing in order to bridge the communication gap is video remote interpreting (VRI). This tool allows patients to connect with non-local specialists or interpreters, enabling both parties to easily communicate in their native or preferred tongue. In doing so, patients who have limited English proficiency (LEP) can receive the same quality of care while having a culturally sensitive healthcare experience, leading to less complications and more recoveries.

Inception

VRI began to proliferate the market in 2010, as it was a cost-effective solution to patient miscommunication. By combining the benefits of face-to-face communication, on-demand service, and multiple language options, VRI is becoming the go-to technological tactic in helping LEP and hard of hearing patients at healthcare facilities and offices around the world.

Boosting Patient Care

A key part of healthcare is being able to effectively interact with patients so they can get the proper instructions they need for recovery. Discharged LEP patients with chronic conditions are often at-risk at home because they don’t have the necessary information they need about their condition and treatment, nor do they have a channel of communication to address their concerns with the physicians and staff.

However, with the advent of telehealth, programs that incorporate VRI have been shown to play a significant role within the first 30-day post-discharge follow up time period. By breaking down communication barriers, physicians can prevent costly readmissions and help this patient population remain engaged and active in managing their health.

How To Implement VRI

A recent study by Georgetown University indicates that a culturally competent health system can improve health outcomes, quality of care and solve for health care disparities. With VRI, patients who would otherwise be vulnerable and disenfranchised, can get the care and treatment that they deserve. Before you implement, you have to ensure that your solution meets these needs:

  • Easy to Use:  Whether you’re in a hospital or in a doctor’s office, your VRI software needs to be user-friendly. If providing LEP patients with an app for their devices or a take-home tablet, the app’s interface should be intuitive and easy to grasp by all parties: patients, their caregivers, physicians, nursing staff, the interpreters, and all members of the medical team.
  • Educational:  All video calls should reinforce the at-risk / at-home patients’ treatment plans, address current concerns about medication and reconciliation, and set expectations for future touchpoints. The program should be designed to conveniently bring care to the comfort of the patient’s home and in the language preferred by the patient.
  • Engaging:  The optimal discharge program should strengthen a patient’s ability to self-manage. Access to case managers, medical staff, and pharmacists can be placed at the fingertips of the at-risk / at-home patients.  The program itself can be as inclusive as possible; family members, neighbors, friends, and/or interpreters can be included in any of the video calls to ensure the patient is supported by all involved in his or her care.

VRI is changing the face of post discharge follow up making it easier than ever for patients to manage their treatment plan regardless of their location or language. Connecting patients and healthcare providers with this tool is changing healthcare for the better.

Author: Lee Horner

Lee is charged with leading the overall strategic direction of the Stratus Video Telehealth Division. As a healthcare technology thought leader, Lee brings over 25 years of enterprise operating experience and has a proven track record as a key executive leader of sales, marketing and professional services for healthcare technology companies.

 

 

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