Interpreters Improve Patient and Provider Satisfaction


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Interpreters Improve Patient and Provider Satisfaction

A new study by Mathematica Policy Research found that using trained language specialists in emergency room settings significantly improves satisfaction for both health care providers and non-English speaking patients. The group conducted the study to examine the impact and cost effectiveness of using professionally trained medical interpreters. During the six-month survey, 424 Spanish-speaking, limited English proficient patients in two central New Jersey hospitals were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The control group received basic language services, such as a telephone language line and ad hoc interpreting provided by family members and bilingual staff. The treatment group received professionally trained medical interpreters in addition to the basic language services. Mathematica researchers surveyed patients, nursing staff, and physicians immediately following the ER visits and tracked cost data through billing records. The survey results revealed clear differences in satisfaction levels between the two groups. Ninety-six percent of patients in the treatment group said they were "very satisfied" with patient-provider communication compared to 23 percent in the control group. Ninety-four percent of emergency room physicians said they "very satisfied" when trained interpreters were used. Eighteen percent were "very satisfied" when only basic language services were provided. There were similar results in the survey of triage nurses. Ninety-four percent were "very satisfied" that they were able to assess and treat the patient through medical interpreters; only 19 percent were "very satisfied" in the control group. Mathematica will release a report in the future following up on the cost-benefit of using professional interpreters in the emergency room. It is expected that the high levels of patient and provider satisfaction found in the study will influence hospitals in their decisions about whether to hire professional interpreters.

From "Trained Interpreters Improve Patient and Provider Satisfaction, Says Study"
HealthLeaders Media (MA) (03/01/10) Clark, Cheryl

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - March 2010


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