Using On-Demand Technology to Save Lives: The Uber-fication of Medical Interpretation

08/17/2016 04:40 pm ET

We are witnessing a milestone moment in healthcare, where technology is not replacing but enhancing the capability and applicability of human skill – and is transforming the industry for the better. Within the healthcare field there are new and innovative ways to connect skilled professionals with the patients who need them. With people’s lives and well-being at stake, medicine calls for the highest standards– and the gold standard in medical interpretation is a qualified in-person interpreter. For the first time, healthcare institutions can use mobile platforms to reach qualified interpreters directly. It is the “Uber-fication” of medical interpretation, with an easy to use app that is downloadable on any device, anywhere.

The rise of the gig economy and Uber-fication has created opportunities for skilled workers across a number of industries. Within healthcare, Stratus, a language access company that provides an innovative application-based approach to changing the way interpretation is delivered, is leading the way with Stratus InPerson, which provides a direct connection to local interpreters, lowers language access costs, improves workforce visibility and offers a complete management solution.

At the same time that the health industry is transitioning towards this more flexible, Uber-inspired model, the market for interpreters is growing rapidly in parallel with linguistic diversity. The latest available U.S. Census data reveals a record high of more than one in five U.S. residents speaking a language other than English at home. Translation and interpretation services comprise the fastest-growing industry in the country by job growth, according to a CareerBuilder report last summer, projecting the industry will add 12,401 jobs from 2014 to 2019 – a 36% increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts translation jobs will grow by 29% from 2014 to 2024, way above the seven percent average growth it predicted for all occupations.

The swiftly expanding non-native English-speaking market is driving a need for efficient, quality-driven solutions across industries – and healthcare is no exception. With life and death often hanging in the balance, medical interpretation is one of the most critical and challenging types of interpretation. A trained interpreter can make a huge impact – reducing misdiagnoses by half, hospital readmissions by nearly 10 percent and hospital stays by 1.5 days. However, even as in-person interpreting offers high quality service, it poses logistical challenges. The typical agency model to provide in-person interpreters is notoriously cumbersome, inefficient and tangled in red tape.

When an onsite interpreter is needed, whether it’s for a patient appointment a month away or immediately for a walk-in, healthcare professionals can use Stratus InPerson to request local registered interpreters. The system works similarly to the popular car service, Uber. It allows interpreters to manage their own clients while giving hospitals a platform for reaching local professionals directly.  Technology for in-person interpreting not only helps hospitals elevate their standard of care, it helps them do so while adapting to this growing need for interpreters in a highly efficient manner, cutting costs and making their reporting more precise.

The current environment is ripe for the convergence of the high demand for medical interpreters and our ability through technology to meet that demand with the gold standard of in-person interpretation. On-demand geolocation technology, like Stratus InPerson, is empowering hospitals to request trained interpreters on demand and have them arrive in as little as 20 minutes. Even more beneficial, however, is the ability to schedule interpreters in advance conveniently, quickly and dynamically, cutting out many unnecessary steps to managing their interpreter operations. This technology also makes it possible to quickly fill last-minute interpretation requests when a patient needs accurate, quality interpretation without much notice.

Imagine showing up at a hospital room with your spouse to have your first child. Now imagine no one speaks your language – you can’t talk to anyone about how your baby will be delivered or about any complications that might arise. You need a qualified medical interpreter who understands the nuances of communication during high stress situations. Births can happen without much notice, so it is challenging for healthcare providers to schedule interpreters in these situations. Now, with Stratus InPerson, a mother in labor can arrive at any time and her healthcare team can reach qualified interpreters instantly through a mobile application. Stratus InPerson is a prime example of how the gig economy and geolocation technology are actually making a difference in people’s lives on a deep level, transforming their healthcare experience, and often saving their lives.

The current environment is ripe for the convergence of the high demand for medical interpreters and to meet that demand with a gold standard of in-person interpretation. The Stratus team consists of nationally certified ASL interpreters that help hospitals meet ADA compliance regulations and last-minute interpretation requests that are quickly filled when a patient needs accurate, quality interpretation.

Stratus InPerson has become the Uber of medical interpretation, providing technology on any device, anywhere to meet the needs of patients throughout the U.S.

About Thomas D. Thompson
Tom’s journey began at Florida State University and took many winding roads before landing here at Stratus. After school Tom went into advertising, cutting his teeth working with Fortune 500 clients in the big agency world of Wilshire Boulevard. Combining that experience with knowledge gained while working at the dot-com startup, Hydrogen Media, Tom partnered with a few colleagues to form Digital Stormfront, a groundbreaking and much heralded digital advertising agency. As Managing Director, Tom guided the company to meteoric growth up until its eventual acquisition. Tom then founded the media consulting firm Cinelight Studios. The firm boasted an impressive roster of clients including, NASCAR, Princess Cruise Lines, AMTRAK, and Anchutz Entertainment Group. In spite of the “big-shot” client list, Tom’s attention and efforts began migrating toward product development. Since then, Tom has developed a varied array of products from software to sunglasses and those products have been sold on anything from infomercials to in-home shopping networks.

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