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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Videoconference technology applied to medical interpretation: Sharing video interpreter services between two large "safety net" institutions

Bruce Occena, MPH, MBA, Health Access Foundation, 2830 21st Street # 7, San Pablo, CA 94806, 510-506-0775, BNOcc@aol.com, Janice Chin, MPH, Interpreter Services Department, Alameda County Medical Center, 1411 East 31st Street, Oakland, CA 94602, and Gloria Garcia-Orme, RN, MS, Interpreter Services Department, San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94103.

Since 2002, collaboration between Alameda County Medical Center and San Francisco General Hospital has introduced medical interpretive services via mobile, videoconference units and “beta” tested this innovative technology on a wide-scale, routine basis – with over 10,000 successful transmissions.

Both systems have high demand for interpreter services and are public health “safety-net” providers. In terms of interpreter services, both institutions are considered “mature” with large, long established, “on-site” interpreter staffs. However, the service was traditionally conducted primarily “in person” and plagued with structural inefficiencies associated with interpreter travel and wait times.

The foundation of the project was to equip 100% of ambulatory care services at both medical centers with videoconference medical interpretation (VMI) capabilities. VMI has become routine, daily practice in ambulatory clinics, with initial experience in the emergency department and some inpatient units, as well.

Service data indicates the introduction of VMI is consistently associated with increased efficient use of interpreter time and reduction in wait-times for LEP patients. Patient and provider acceptance remains high due largely to ability to keep visual “body language cues” in the interpretive interaction. Data from the past two years will be examined.

In addition, the partners have established the ability to transmit VMI services between themselves. Clinical trails were completed in early 2006 and routine exchange of services takes place daily. Both the technical and service features of this innovation will be discussed. We comment on potential “economies of scale” and how the project serves as an important prototype for rest of the county.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Technology Adoption and Health Administration

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA