Innovative Technology Improves Interpreting Service Efficiency

09 Jan 2012

To ensure that patients who need medical interpreter services are served as quickly as possible, Steward St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, part of the Boston AF4Q alliance, has replaced beeper dispatching with an innovative use of hand-held technology. Staff medical interpreters now carry iPod Touch devices which alert them each time new requests for language services are made. The interpreters take cases from a digital queue while the intranet-net based dispatching system tracks their work flow in real time. Requests are sent only to the appropriate interpreters – for example, only Russian interpreters will see a request for that language – while clinicians can track the status of all active cases through an online dashboard. Each interpreter can also message fellow staff members directly through their devices. This process has eliminated the need for a full-time dispatcher and allows Interpreter Services to respond to all language requests within 10 minutes. "Our staff has improved their efficiency by an average of 30 percent across the board," says Oscar Escartin, Manager of Interpreter Services at St. Elizabeth’s. "The obvious improvement in productivity with this dispatching approach has increased satisfaction for everyone – the patients, the providers, and the interpreters."