As we all know (besides the lucky few who haven’t had the pleasure), hospital visits can be a stressful and frustrating experience. This is true even more so for patients who do not speak the native language, and must rely on either a family member who knows the native language or a helpful staff member if they happen to be available. Sometimes patients can bring a translator with them to scheduled appointments, but during emergency visits, this scenario isn’t always an option.
At Southlake Regional Health Center in Canada, they have begun using a video translation service geared towards hospitals and health care facilities called, VICKI. VICKI is a real-time video interpreting service from Able Translations Ltd., that helps patients who come into the hospital who do not speak the native language of the doctors. The ability for patients and health care professionals to communicate and understand each other is key to a positive patient experience and receiving the right treatment.
So how does VICKI work, you ask? Quite simply, VICKI connects patients, via a video link, with a qualified health care interpreter at Able’s call center.
In early 2011, Southlake piloted the use of VICKI in the cataract center and the Stronach Regional Cancer Center, two key areas in the hospital that regularly serve patients whose first language is not English.
During this initial trial, staff saw tremendous success using the service, which led Southlake to become the first hospital in Canada to purchase the portable units. Southlake is now equipped with five VICKI machines which are located in the hospital’s emergency department, call center, Stronach Regional Cancer Center, welcome center and the Medical Arts Building. And because VICKI is portable and mobile, they can be used by any department at any time.
“VICKI instantaneously relieves patients’ anxiety and fear, ultimately allowing them to speak comfortably,” says Roseanne Pegler, who, as executive lead at Stronach Regional Cancer Center, works with Cancer Care Ontario and the regional cancer program to implement cancer-related projects at Southlake. “When patients realize that they are being connected with a live person who speaks their language, their faces literally light up.”
Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and supports many different languages at the press of a button, including Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Cantonese and Spanish, the top five language requests at Southlake at this time. The fact that it is video also helps the deaf/mute community by supplying translators who know sign language and can interpret what the patient is saying to the medical staff.
The success so far of this service paves the way for the devices to expand to other hospitals and countries in the near future.