Enabling Communication For Limited-English Speaking People in Healthcare and Education

Applications drive the use of technology. The success of the Apple i-product range is mostly driven by the 350,000 apps which are easily accessible. I have always been driven by the application philosophy in my own business of providing solutions to small and medium organizations. So I was excited when Roberto Fonts approached us to partner in a new service to provide language interpretation using video conferencing over the Internet.

Fonts’ company, Dialog One, is already established as a leading provider of phone and face to face interpretation but he saw shortcomings of these approaches in certain circumstances. For example in hospitals – getting an accurate diagnosis with a limited English speaking person usually needs more than just simple language translation. Being able to see the body language of the patient or for them to be able to point at the problem area can be key to enabling the doctor to get a quick and accurate assessment of the problem.

The service (Dialog One Video Interpreter, known as Dovi) allows customers to interact face to face with accredited language experts through a video conference interpretation over the Internet. The service is initially targeted at the healthcare and educational markets in Minnesota but will expand nationally over time.

“We have seen a continuously expanding need for language interpretation as the population becomes more language-diverse,” said Roberto Fonts, founder and President of Dialog One. “Schools and hospitals often need full-time staff to help conversations between staff, student, parents and patients but the problem is how to cover the number of languages now prevalent in Minnesota. Also there is a wide range of cultural differences and that is where we realized that the use of video can improve overall communication effectiveness. We researched the available technologies and chose Vidyo as the most cost effective, easy-to-use solution with the proven high definition that we need to make this service effective,” Fonts added. “Then we chose Phenomenal to be our technology partner so that we could focus on the interpretation.”

“We hear from Healthcare providers that they need to lower their interpreter service costs and get more work done.” said Fonts. “Using interpreters through video conferencing is faster and offers more flexibility. Customers pay only for the actual interpreter minutes being used rather than paying the industry standard 2 hour minimum for a 20-minute conversation. They are interested in faster response during and after business hours, weekends and holidays. They are looking for real solutions to their language barriers.”

Dovi customers often use a cart-based system that can be wheeled anywhere in the facility using wireless Internet connection.

Dovi is simple to use: the healthcare or education customer provides the computer hardware, web camera, a USB speakerphone all connected through a broadband connection to the Internet. They are often using a cart-based system that can be wheeled anywhere in the facility using wireless Internet connection. This way they can maintain maximum flexibility and lower cost.

Dovi also has a simple online procurement tool so that clients can schedule their video cultural mediation/interpretation session using secure login credentials. The user gets a confirmation email with the link to the video conference room for the interpretation session. Initially the service covers the dominant languages here in Minnesota including Somali, Hmong and Spanish but eventually will expand to the full 150 languages that Dialog One offers in their standard telephone and in-person translations.

Security and privacy are always major concerns for any communications and we have planned a high level of both data and voice communication security into the service. The high level of encryption available with Vidyo systems is a big selling point to meeting the strict regulatory requirements such as HIPAA and other privacy laws. We are all concerned about cost savings, improved services and better outcomes in all areas of Healthcare and Education. With Dovi and other associated applications, we can see improvements for all areas. One of the major cost problems is miss-diagnosis and minimizing this as well as providing a more comfortable environment for a limited-English speaking patient can create major cost savings.

So can businesses afford new solutions? The Holy Grail in this industry is achieving rapid ROI. The use of Dovi requires little to no investment in hardware technology & network to the end user. The concept is simple, and the user gets the experience of an onsite interpreter using video conferencing at the low cost of over-the-phone services. The ROI is quickly realized and the communication experience is heightened.

Also many of our customers see that, just like the iPad phenomenon, the Vidyo solution is a good general base technology on which to “stack” applications. So in addition to enabling language interpretation, the same system may also be used for general meeting teleconferencing, training, telemedicine and many other remote communication needs. The ability to go one-on-one or many-to-many gives great flexibility and, of course, strong cost justification.

…… and the service can also be used on iPads.

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Dave Shepherdson

Dave Shepherdson and wife Colleen sold their successful business in South Africa and moved to Minnesota in 2001. An advanced IT communications reseller/distributor, their company was rated in the Top 20 private businesses focusing on products from vendors like Lucent and Alcatel. They started Phenomenal Networks in 2001. In addition to being a Cisco Premier partner, the company became one of the first certified Vidyo resellers in 2008. Vidyo customers are currently mostly in the Healthcare and Education markets. As COO of Phenomenal, Dave brings 30 years of technology experience to identifying future business trends and advanced technology solutions.

2 thoughts on “Enabling Communication For Limited-English Speaking People in Healthcare and Education

  1. good. it really becomes a problem for the non-English speaking population to communicate in certain areas. video communication is a great help to them.

  2. I agree. I guess it is definitely a much needed step that has to be taken (and really appreciate that someone has already done). I personally feel this should spread across different sectors as well, not restricting to just Education.

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