ULG’s Language Solutions Blog


We are lucky to live in a world where we have multiple options for interpretation, but how do you know when to use the different options? With the prominence of telehealth today, we should be asking the same question about language services in healthcare.

There are certain contexts when On-Site Interpretation (OSI), Over the Phone Interpretation (OPI), Video Remote Interpretation (VRI), and/or Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) are used. But one aspect of telehealth that should be highlighted is how much and how quickly information is communicated and received by our faces and body language. Additionally, being able to see a person when you are talking to them can determine the dynamic of the conversation and the individuals involved. While OPI is more accessible, this is especially true if you and your patients are limited to phones for communication. Without face-to-face interaction, even virtually, you may be assuming that the patient understands when that might not be the case.

Between OSI, OPI, VRI, and RSI, we must familiarize ourselves with the scenarios and settings in which each one can be optimized to best fit the needs of the patients you serve.

Find the right interpretation solution for your healthcare setting with this helpful infographic.

On-Site Interpretation

Let’s first talk about On-Site interpreting (OSI). This form of interpretation allows the most personal approach. There can be a lot of distrust of the medical field within the LEP population. It’s not always enough to have the appointment and the knowledge. You need to build trust over time or by word of mouth from friends or family.

Sensitive issues can be challenging to handle, even in a patient’s original language. For example, therapy and pediatrics are some of the specialties that should always use on-site interpreters because patients need to be the most engaged in these appointments. Cultural barriers, including body language or posture, can be too confusing without an adequately trained interpreter. Some providers might want to use a bilingual employee for interpretation, but they aren’t able to give proper care like a trained professional can.

Over-the-Phone Interpretation

Over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) tends to be the most accessible and quickest option. This makes it the best option for preventive care and non-emergency situations. No scheduling is necessary when using OPI. OPI is also great for follow-up calls. When you need to follow up with a patient, programs like Direct Connect can be quick and easily accessible.

As you can see, you have different options as you work with your patients with LEP. These interpretation options complement each other and provide efficiency for your organization and the full communicative autonomy your patients need.

Learn how you can go from providing language access to providing language equity in this on-demand webinar. 

Video Remote Interpretation

When limited in-person contact is requested or necessary due to cultural or environmental factors, VRI is your best option. This provides the opportunity to take in body language, facial expressions, and room dynamics while keeping physical distance. VRI is also a great option when getting an in-person interpreter takes too much time. Emergencies like unplanned surgery or a broken bone may need face-to-face interaction. Video remote interpreting (VRI) solutions provide face-to-face interpretation and the flexibility to accommodate situations like over-the-phone sessions.

Remote Simultaneous Interpretation

Remote Simultaneous interpretation (RSI) is very different from consecutive interpretation. Simultaneous interpreting means the interpreters are interpreting right behind the speaker. It does not require the speaker to pause and wait for interpreters to finish before continuing. RSI allows multiple participants to hear in their preferred language while other languages are being spoken or interpreted.

RSI is the best solution in healthcare settings such as group therapy sessions, patient education classes, and consults that need to happen in real-time, like this example at a Children's Hospital.

Healthcare Language Solutions

At United Language Group we pride ourselves on being industry experts, so you don’t need to take the time to bring us up to speed on regulations, industry-specific guidelines, and the strictest global requirements. We understand scientific language and processes as well as the intricacies of settings in which your translations may be used. Let’s connect.

Contact Us to Learn More