ULG’s Language Solutions Blog

When Should I Use VRI, OPI or In-Person Interpreters for Healthcare?

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? Living in a world where telehealth is prominent, we should be looking at language service the same. Our faces and body language tell a lot. You don’t want to mistakenly think the patient understands, when in reality they’re just saying yes over the phone and have no idea what you’re talking about.

In-Person Interpretation

Let’s first talk about in-person interpretation. 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 in-person 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 bi-lingual employee for interpretation, but they aren’t able to give proper care like a trained professional can.


Video Remote Interpretation

When limited in-person contact is requested or necessary due to cultural or environmental factors (Hello, COVID-19!), 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.


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.

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Healthcare Language Solutions

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