The challenge of overcoming language barriers in a hospital or doctor’s office is particularly heightened when the patient is a child.

Video remote interpreting (VRI) is changing this dynamic in a big way.

The use of video interpreting has been connected to better health outcomes, fewer readmissions, reduced costs, increased staff productivity, and most importantly enhanced patient satisfaction. VRI has proved to be particularly effective with children.

VRI is very similar to platforms with which most kids are familiar like FaceTime. In the case of VRI, one touch of a button brings up a live, professional interpreter who speaks the patient’s primary language and picks up on their non-verbal gestures. This linguist interprets for the doctor to the patient, and vice versa.

Three of the best children’s hospitals in the U.S. Boston Children’s Hospital, Children’s Health System of Texas, and Children’s Specialized Hospital (New Jersey) have managed to successfully implement video interpreting to improve understanding between providers, pediatric patients, and their families. Representatives from each of these hospitals shared best practices for using video interpreting when working with children during a conversation that LanguageLine® moderated. We published this conversation in our eBook, “Video Interpreting for Children’s Hospitals: Best Practices When Caring for Pediatric Patients.”

We asked our participants, “Has anything surprised you about using video interpreting? Do any stories stand out?”

Melina Kolbeck, Director of Language Access Services, Children’s Health System of Texas: Well, we’ve learned that kids are not intimidated by video at all! They are interested in it and often like to wave to the interpreter. I’ve also noticed that new residents and millennials are not at all afraid of it. They want quick and easy access to all things, so on-demand video interpreting suits them.

Sandy Habashy, Operations and Training Manager, Interpreter Services, Boston Children’s Hospital: To our surprise, there are families who actually prefer to use video because of the privacy aspect. We have noticed that with some languages, there is a small community of people, and that community is well connected. It may not be comfortable to have an interpreter physically present when they are likely to see that person at church or somewhere else.

Shannon Swope, MSS, LSW, Manager of Outpatient Care Coordination, Children’s Specialized Hospital: Children think the interpreter is fun. The interpreters are very friendly and smile back at the kids, and the kids love the interaction. One of our little guys down in one of our long-term care facilities has been with us most of his life. He’s deaf. Prior to having the video interpreting, we would have to hire somebody to come in and do one-on-one interpreting.

We had minimal staff who knew American Sign Language. Once we got the video, we were going with him up and down the hallways and in therapy sessions. It made him open up a lot more. There is a different connection that you get when a young patient can look the interpreter in the eye.

We’ve also been surprised at the extent to which the video interpreters share the same compassion that we do for our patients and their families. We see a lot of newborns and their first visit after going home. We have a lot of breastfeeding moms. I had a meeting with such a family the other day in the clinic.

The woman needed to breastfeed. The interpreter recognized that and offered to place themselves on privacy mode. Examples like that really show why the parents, providers, and children truly value the video interpreter service. It has been a great way to increase everyone’s comfort level during the visit.

In our eBook, you will learn:

  • How the top children’s hospitals are discovering that VRI is particularly helpful with pediatric patients.
  • Best practices for using video interpreting with this patient community.
  • The strategic benefits of VRI that improve patient outcomes while also speaking to those who oversee hospital budgets.

Click here to download "Video Interpreting for Children's Hospitals: Best Practices When Caring for Pediatric Patients."

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