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Unified Communications Helps Doctors Connect With Patients

July 02, 2015 by

Thousands of people visit hospitals every day in the United States. They come in for a variety of reasons and procedures. But one difference among patients stands out the most: language. When doctors and nurses don't speak the same language as their patients, they won't be able to provide quality care. Unfortunately, medical interpreters aren't available on location at all times, but with unified communications, they can be reached no matter where they are in the world.

Improving Medical Care

The Health Care Interpreter Network receives more than 1 million translator requests annually, according to BizTech. The 48 members of the organization who reside around the U.S. are available when hospitals either don't have on-site interpreters or don't have one accessible at that time. Through a cloud service, HCIN is able to communicate with health care providers and patients via video conferencing technology. The presence feature can determine if there is someone available in the office first. If not, it automatically reroutes the call to the next person in the network who can speak with the group.

With a wide range of medical interpreters always on-call with conferencing technology, anyone who speaks a language other than English will be able to receive the same care as their English-speaking counterparts. Simply by wheeling a video phone into the room, doctors have access to UC tools that make their jobs easier.

"As cloud-based video technology becomes more affordable, scalable, and reliable, we expect that these cloud video systems will become the preferred communications strategy in most organizations within the next three years," Andrew Davis, senior partner and analyst for Wainhouse Research, told the source.

Providing the Right Tools

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that companies, hospitals, and other businesses cannot discriminate based on physical or mental disabilities. This includes hearing or speech-impaired individuals, who require special communication tools and interpreters to be able to talk efficiently with hearing people. Telecommunications devices, video relay services and other assistance through IP telephony need to be provided to these people.

Similar to the way telemedicine works, videophones, VRS​, and mobile applications allow patients to connect with their health care providers immediately over the phone instead of simply through email and messaging services which could take longer, The Free Lance-Star explained. The deaf person signs to the interpreter, who translates the message to the doctor. The interpreter then signs the physician's response back to the patient. In this case, UC solutions such as video conferencing permit an easy flow of communication between medical professionals and hard-of-hearing patients.

Unfortunately, money for VRS from the Federal Communications Commission is being cut, according to the source. Services are being lost and interpreters are leaving. Hospitals can alleviate the problem by implementing UC solutions of their own or by connecting to organizations similar to the HCIN. With the proper tools, medical professionals will be able to provide the same service to those patients who speak a different language or who are hard of hearing.

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