ULG's Language Services Blog

VRI At The Doctor’s Office: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Session


Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) has risen in popularity as the technology becomes more readily available in the courtroom, hospitals and during international conferences.

According to a recent reader poll from Slator, almost half of the respondents predicted that VRI will be the norm in the next five years, replacing on-site interpreters. Just 25 percent of those polled believed VRI’s takeover wouldn’t take place in the next decade.

VRI refers to an interpreter communicating with a Limited English Proficiency (LEP) speaker via a computer or TV screen. The method blends telephonic and on-site interpreting, allowing LEP speakers to see and hear the linguist they’re working with.

VRI has become an asset in hospitals and clinics, and is being used at relief centers in light of recent natural disasters. The use of video interpreting has allowed more access to language support for non-native speakers.

However, notwithstanding its popularity, there are certain factors that can make or break a VRI session. Here arek three tips for a successful VRI experience in a medical setting.

Make Sure Your Connection Is Strong

First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all the basics covered. This means finding a secure, strong connection to your interpreter and the necessary hardware to do so. Having to deal with connectivity issues during a session can be distracting for all parties, especially an LEP patient.

In healthcare situations, doctors and interpreters should be comfortable enough with the software being used to effectively facilitate a session. If necessary, training for either party should be completed beforehand to ensure the experience is as seamless as possible.

Technical difficulties could negatively affect the kind of care an LEP patient receives.



Related to making technical preparations, an interpreter should be briefed on what the session will be like before going in. Giving some background on why the appointment was made and what needs to be discussed will be helpful.

For example, the conversation at an appointment regarding chemotherapy or more serious conditions will likely have a different tone than an annual physical. And the more familiar with the patient an interpreter is, the easier it will be for them to interact with them.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

It’s a good idea to plan your VRI session in a space that is not prone to many distractions. Take into consideration whether there is excessive background noise or commotion in the location where the session is scheduled.

Avoid a setting in which people will be coming in and out of the room where the session is located.

Another thing to consider is where the VRI monitor is placed. Try to position the screen where it’s easy for both the physician and the patient to make eye contact with the interpreter, and one another. This will not only make for better communication, but also create an atmosphere that is comfortable for everyone.

Creating Effective Healthcare For LEP Patients

As VRI becomes more prevalent in healthcare settings, it’s important for providers and interpreters to work together to make the most of the technology. The capabilities set forth by VRI are extremely useful for global medicine, but without the necessary preparation can be less effective.

When LEP patients have access to interpreting services, they’re shown to have better health outcomes. Preparation, the right equipment, and certified interpreters will increase the likelihood that patients will get the most out of a VRI session.