family calls get an interpreter doctor

Doctors and other caregivers may now remotely communicate with families by phone or video, which can become extra-complicated when the family member does not speak English.

Fortunately, this obstacle can be easily resolved. Whether using phone or video, there are several ways for caregivers to incorporate an interpreter into calls with loved ones who are not at the doctor’s office or hospital.

Before You Begin

The following assumes that you are a LanguageLine(R) client. Whether your call is an audio call from a phone or if you are connecting via a video conferencing platform, you’ll need your designated LanguageLine 800 number and Client ID. You get these from your organization’s language-access coordinator.

If you are not a LanguageLine client, instructions for initiating this process are below.

Please note that in all of the scenarios below, the interpreter will join the call in audio only. Even if it is a video call, the caregiver and family member will only be able to hear the interpreter, but not see them. In each of these scenarios, the interpreter is professionally trained and medically qualified. The interpreter will come on the line in 30 seconds or less in most cases.

Video Calls

You may be using a video service like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Skype to conference with families or loved ones. There are two ways to connect with an interpreter when using video conferencing.

Version 1: Place a call from within the video-conferencing platform via the “Invite” option

Most video platforms can place an outbound audio call to a third party 800 number. Some platforms only make this feature available as a premium option, however.

The experience for the caregiver is quite seamless.

  1. On the video platform interface, simply click the button that allows for an audio call to be placed to a third party. Often this can be initiated by clicking a button marked “Invite.”
  2. Select the option marked “Invite by Phone.”
  3. Enter the dedicated LanguageLine 800 telephone number. If prompted for a name for the new participant, type “Interpreter.”
  4. When a connection is made, follow these voice prompts to select your language and connect to an interpreter:

LanguageLine: “Thank you for calling LanguageLine. Please speak the name of the desired language.”

Client: “Spanish”

LanguageLine: “I understood Spanish. If this is correct, say yes or press one to confirm.”

Client: “Yes.”

LanguageLine: “I am connecting you to a Spanish interpreter.”The LanguageLine interpreter will join the call within seconds. The provider should brief the interpreter on the nature of the conversation, and then the discussion begins.

Version 2: Use the conference-call feature on your phone to add an interpreter  

This version is an alternative for those using a video teleconferencing platform that does not have a third-party dial-out option.

When you join a video conference, you are given the option to use your computer or phone for audio. In this instance, you select the phone-audio option.

Most phones can add a third party using its conference-call or “Add Call” feature. Using this feature is easy.

In this instance, the provider would first call the family member. Once that connection is made, they’d take the following steps:

  1. On their smartphone, the provider taps “Add Call.”
  2. The provider then dials the LanguageLine 800 number and inputs the access code.
  3. The provider then hears a prompt saying, “Press 1 for Spanish. Press 2 for other languages.”
  4. After following the prompts to the appropriate language, an interpreter comes on the line within seconds.
  5. The provider then taps “Merge Calls” to connect all three parties.

Phone Calls

There may be times when video is not necessary, and a doctor or caregiver will want to connect with a family member by phone. There are two simple ways to do this.

Version 1: Call LanguageLine first and ask the interpreter to make the outbound call

The doctor first calls the designated LanguageLine 800 number and enters the access code. She will then hear a prompt that says, “Press 1 for Spanish. Press 2 for all other languages.” She presses “1” to connect to a Spanish Interpreter.

Within seconds, a Spanish interpreter joins the line and greets the doctor in English. The doctor provides the interpreter with the family member’s name and phone number to call that individual.

The interpreter then makes a third-party dial-out to the loved one, who is addressed in Spanish from the start of the conversation. All three parties are then bridged by the interpreter.

Scenario 2: Use your phone’s conference-call feature

In this instance, the doctor would already have the family member on the line.

  1. On her smartphone, the doctor then taps “Add Call.” The patient will be placed on hold.
  2. The doctor then dials the LanguageLine 800 number and inputs her access code.
  3. She then hears a prompt saying, “Press 1 for Spanish. Press 2 for all other languages.”
  4. After following the prompts to the appropriate language, an interpreter comes on the line within seconds. The doctor gives a brief overview of the conversation that’s about to take place.
  5. The doctor taps “Merge Calls” to connect all parties.

The conversation will proceed as if the doctor, interpreter, and family member are in the same room.

LanguageLine Can Help

LanguageLine has been the world leader in innovative language-access solutions since 1982. The company sets the global standard for phone, video, and onsite interpreting, as well as translation of the written word. LanguageLine is trusted by more than 30,000 clients to enable communication with the limited English proficient, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing communities. LanguageLine provides the industry’s fastest and most dependable access to more than 35,000 professional linguists in 290-plus languages — 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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