Phone And Video Could Save Medical Interpreter Costs In Wash.

Jul 31, 2012
Originally published on July 30, 2012 5:27 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It happens more than 200-thousand times a year in doctor’s offices throughout Washington. An interpreter is called in to help bridge a language barrier between the physician and patient. Soon though, that interpreter may join the appointment by phone or even video.

Washington provides medical interpretation services to Medicaid clients. But sending an interpreter to a doctor’s office is costly and sometimes inefficient.

“A lot of the interpreter’s time is waiting in the waiting room,” says Todd Slettvet from the state’s Health Care Authority.

Enter CTS Language Link. It’s a Vancouver, Washington-based company that provides professional translation services in more than 240 languages and dialects. CTS has just won the contract to take over medical interpretation in Washington.

In some cases CTS will provide the interpreter by phone or video.

Washington’s Health Care Authority says the goal is to move about a third of the interpreter interactions to the phone or video. But it’s up to the doctor to decide when that’s appropriate. Maybe so for a regular check-up, but not for a cancer diagnosis.

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