In the age of the global Covid-19 pandemic, medical translation and interpretation have become a much more pressing concern than they were mere months ago. Medical translation services are required to be provided to those with “Limited English Proficiency” or LEP, with instructions and information for everything from prevention to an accurate diagnosis to proper treatments.
Medical translation and interpretation services are important for an exact exchange of information to take place between the doctor and the patient. It may even be fair to say that both medical translation and interpretation are an integral part of the battle against the current coronavirus outbreak. Academic, Scientific, and Medical institutions and organizations around the world rely daily on faceless medical translators and interpreters working quietly behind the scenes.
Are Medical Interpreters Required By Law and Reimbursed by Medicaid?
Citing statistics from the US Census Bureau, the American Family Physicians organization noted, “More than 25 million Americans speak English ‘less than very well’, and more than 60 million speak a language other than English at home. This population is the least likely to receive preventive care, have access to regular care, or be satisfied with their care.”
Legally speaking, medical interpretation services are mandatory under Title Three of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. According to the website, medical translation and interpretation services are not only covered under the ADA, but also under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1973.
All providers who receive federal funds from HHS for the provision of Medicaid/CHIP services are still obligated to make language services available to those with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). The Medicaid website further states “Interpreters are not Medicaid qualified providers; however, their services may be reimbursed when billed by a qualified provider rendering a Medicaid covered service. Interpreters may not be paid separately.”
Therefore, if a patient has the means to hire a medical interpreter, this may be a viable option. In many cases, this may not be so easily accomplished. Far too often, these interpretation services are either not demanded by LEP patients or even fully understood. For both doctors and patients, friends or family members may often serve in the role of the medical interpreter as much for the sake of convenience as anything.
Is it Okay to use Friends and Family as Medical Interpreters?
Using friends or family as medical interpreters are more dangerous than ever during the current global medical crisis. Given the exact nature and extent of medically terminology, it can be very easy for someone who is not a certified medical interpreter or translator to conflate similar terms with very different meanings.
Not using someone who is a certified medical interpreter can easily result in a misdiagnosis or the wrong treatment and care program being prescribed for the patient. In the case of Covid-19, this could quite literally endanger virtually everyone that the patient will ultimately come into contact with as they go on with their lives.
Real-Time Medical Translation and Interpretation Services
A much better solution would be to ensure that a certified medical translator can be found, no matter whether it is for a routine medical checkup or for a trip to the emergency room. Fortunately, there are many different options available for both medical professionals and LEP patients.
Both certified medical interpreters and medical translations are readily available at any given time if you know how to find them. Among the many methods for medical translations and interpreters, is the use of apps developed for this purpose. If there is any drawback here, it is the fact that not all apps are created equal, and it is difficult to know which medical translation apps meet the needs of the individual.
What are the Best Apps for Medical Translation and Interpretation?
Determining which medical translation apps are the best ones for any individual will rely heavily on their respective needs. For some, the cost may be the most relevant consideration while for others, it may require a language-specific solution for a more limited language, not often available in most translation apps. Fortunately, there are some websites that allow for the review of medical translation apps.
Among the most popular medical apps for health care professionals is one that was originally designed by two medical students at the University of California, San Francisco, in conjunction with the San Francisco General Hospital. The app is known as MediBabble and is still available for free. This medical app provides comprehensive medical translations from English to Cantonese, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish.
Remote Video Interpreting Services
Another viable option is to seek out local hospitals that use remote video medical interpretation services. An alternative to this may be seeking out a translation agency or other language service provider that offers remote video interpreting services.
This report posted on the thirty-first of March on the Tech Crunch website noted that from the fourteenth to the twenty-first of March, video conferencing software downloads increased by forty-five percent more than the previous week. It also showed that this was an increase of over ninety percent from the same period last year. Video interpretation services are becoming increasingly common, at least in those cases when medical interpreters are used.
It would be wise to ensure that the hospitals also use certified medical interpreters, as they are intimately familiar, not only with both languages but also the specific medical terms. It may be more convenient merely to use friends and family as impromptu medical interpreters, but especially during the global Covid-19 pandemic, specificity should be a priority.
Certified medical interpreters and translators should be used at all times. The services of a certified medical interpreter will ensure proper measures for prevention, more accurate diagnoses, and treatment measures. These measures are necessary for the benefit not only of the patient but for anyone that patient may come into contact with during the Covid-19 pandemic.