Medical interpreters break language barriers in health care

Sep 17, 2009
Karen Edison, director of the MU Center for Health Policy, talks with a patient via videoconferencing technology from the Missouri Telehealth Network. The technology is part of a grant-funded project that provides medical interpreters for patients. Credit: MU Center for Health Policy

Language barriers in health care settings can decrease access to quality care and diminish comprehension for limited English proficient patients (LEP). These barriers compromise quality of care, and increase costs and inefficiencies. Now, the University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy, Center for Health Policy and Missouri Telehealth Network are partnering with the Language Access Metro Project (LAMP) and the Missouri Primary Care Association to provide medical interpreters to non-English-speaking patients who otherwise might not have access to live interpreters.

"The program will demonstrate the advantages of utilizing professionally trained medical interpreters for LEP patients, including improving patient communication by eliminating language and cultural barriers," said Dana Hughes, policy analyst in the Truman School of Public Affairs. "Interpreters also help health care providers decrease costs and eliminate misdiagnoses and unnecessary testing."

The Missouri Telehealth Interpretation Project will provide LAMP interpreters, free of charge for two years, to health care providers through the Missouri Telehealth Network (MTN), already in place throughout the state. MTN uses two-way live, interactive video to deliver patient care from providers in urban areas to underserved patients throughout the state in specialties such as dermatology, psychiatry, autism, endocrinology and others. LAMP interpreters will attend patient appointments and confirm appointments to reduce patient no-shows and late cancellations.

"By having access to interpreters, health care providers will be able to give linguistically and culturally competent care to their LEP patients," said Nikki Lopresti, director of LAMP. "As word spreads, more LEP patients will gain access to improved quality ."

Resources for professionally trained medical interpreters in Missouri are limited, especially in rural areas. Availability, scheduling, and quality of interpreters are issues for many primary care clinics.

The project is funded by a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. After the initial two-year, grant-funded period ends, continued use of medically trained interpreters will benefit LEP patients, sustain the telehealth network and increase utilization of LAMP interpreters.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia (news : web)

Explore further: New Dominican law OKs abortion if life at risk

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Doctor: Patients need interpreters

Jul 21, 2006

A new study finds that millions of U.S. residents with limited English skills are at risk when they go to a hospital or a doctor's office.

Sign language interpreters at high ergonomic risk

Apr 17, 2008

Sign language interpreting is one of the highest-risk professions for ergonomic injury, according to a new study conducted by Rochester Institute of Technology. The research indicates that interpreting causes more physical ...

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

Dec 19, 2014

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

Dec 19, 2014

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.