ACA Prompts 9 Million Limited English Proficiency Patients to Flood U.S. Hospitals--Stratus Video Interpreting Says High Costs, Language Barriers Necessitate Standardized Interpreting

Stratus Video Interpreting comments on the rise of limited English proficiency (LEP) patients in U.S. hospitals, which the company believes creates a real necessity for healthcare facilities to offer comprehensive interpreting services that increase safety and quality of care. Stratus offers video remote interpreting to hospitals and other healthcare facilities nationwide.

CLEARWATER, Fla., June 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is comprised of provisions designed to expand access to subsidized health insurance coverage and reduce the number of uninsured, which will cause a predicted 30 million newly-insured patients to flood what some deem to be an already overburdened healthcare system—and 9 million of whom are limited English proficient (LEP) and speak a primary language other than English (1).  Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) company Stratus Video Interpreting says that despite federal law mandating language services for limited LEP patients, they do not often have support when seeking healthcare services.  Stratus executives state that hospitals must now meet new regulatory standards and provide interpreting services or risk noncompliance with federal law—a move that could land them in severe financial jeopardy as a result of medical malpractice.  Stratus, a company dedicated to eliminating language barriers throughout the U.S., offers an advanced system that connects healthcare facilities with a cloud-based network of certified spoken language interpreters with the ability to interpret over 175 different spoken and sign languages.

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Healthcare providers are already encountering a rising number of LEP patients:  26 million Americans are LEP, a number that is growing rapidly and has increased by 30 percent over the past decade—more than triple the growth rate of the overall U.S. population (1).  But despite studies proving that language barriers are highly associated with repeat visits to the emergency room and an increased likelihood for fatal consequences and medical malpractice lawsuits, fewer than half of patients who need an interpreter usually get such assistance (2).

A major problem that hospitals face in providing language services is that they are costly:  the average U.S. hospital spends nearly $1 million a year on language services.  And although these services are available, they are often underutilized because they are difficult to access, leading providers to sometimes communicate with LEP patients using methods such as hand signals and informal interpreters like the patients' own family members (1).

However, according to Stratus CEO Sean Belanger, "The costs of language services pale in comparison to those associated with malpractice suits due to language barriers."

Case in Point:

18 year old Willie Ramirez was misunderstood by a paramedic as saying he was "intoxicated" rather than "nauseated." He was subsequently treated for drug abuse, then suffered a brain aneurysm and became a quadriplegic. The resulting malpractice case awarded the patient $71 million (3).

While the above severe case is a rarity that occurred years ago, similar stories are often repeating themselves within the healthcare system.  One study found that 2.5 percent of a malpractice insurance company's lawsuits could be blamed on the lack of use of interpreters, at a cost of approximately $5 million to the company that year (4).

Belanger maintains that as LEP individuals begin representing an overwhelmingly large percentage of the population, providing the language services currently used by most facilities—such as in-person interpreting—will become more expensive, and the resulting landscape will not only necessitate a more effective strategy that allows patients and interpreters to interact face-to-face, but will also provide a major incentive for healthcare organizations to provide the most effective services possible for LEP patients, per Belanger.

"Successful implementation of comprehensive service solutions for LEP populations requires the full engagement of healthcare organizations nationwide—not only will they benefit from reduced costs and fewer risks, but more importantly, the quality of care that LEP patients receive will no longer be compromised by language barriers," said Belanger.

Stratus' video interpreting service is an application that can be loaded onto any PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet; the technology can even be applied to Polycom and Cisco systems.  Through a virtual private network, an encrypted call is placed to one of Stratus' 33 video call centers across the U.S., and the next available interpreter in that language is found and connected.

In its effort to assist hospitals in maintaining compliance while also reducing malpractice suits due to interpretation errors, Stratus upholds the standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for protecting sensitive patient data by ensuring that all essential security measures are in place.

Stratus specializes in medical and court interpreting, but the company's technology is applicable to every industry.  Stratus employs experienced, highly-qualified, certified interpreters who can either be used to supplement an existing interpreting infrastructure or to replace live and over-the-phone interpreters altogether with their VRI system.

For more information about Stratus and its services, visit www.stratusvideo.com.

About Stratus Video Interpreting:

Stratus Video Interpreting provides on-demand interpreter services by using technology to connect clients with interpreters in over 175 spoken and signed languages in less than 30 seconds.  Stratus' cloud-based video solution delivers an array of unique features to virtually any Internet-enabled PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet.  Stratus clients use the technology to connect with their own staff interpreters, as well as with Stratus interpreters, who have years of healthcare and courtroom experience and hold multiple certifications.  With Stratus, state-of-the-art video remote interpreting is made available with virtually no capital investment.  Stratus averages 65,000 video calls a day, up from 40,000 in mid-2013.  Stratus Video is the sister company of The Z® (CSDVRS, LLC, dba ZVRS), which was established in 2006 and developed by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, setting the industry standard as the nation's premier Video Relay Service Provider and the first VRS Provider to receive a 5-Year certification from the FCC.  For more information, visit www.stratusvideo.com.

1.   "The Affordable Care Act:  Say 'Hola' to Your Patients."  N.p., 24 Sept. 2013.  Web.  9 May 2014.  prlog.org/12215123-the-affordable-care-act-say-hola-to-your-patients.html.

2.   Quinton, Sophie.  "Speaking the Language of Health Care."  Nationaljournal.com.  N.p., 19 Mar. 2014.  Web.  27 Mar. 2014.  nationaljournal.com/next-america/health/speaking-the-language-of-health-care-20140319.

3.  Price-Wise, Gail. "Language, Culture, And Medical Tragedy." N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014. healthaffairs.org/blog/2008/11/19/language-culture-and-medical-tragedy-the-case-of-willie-ramirez/.

4.   "The High Costs of Language Barriers in Medical Malpractice."  Healthlaw.org.  National Health Law Program, n.d.  Web.  20 Mar. 2014.  healthlaw.org/component/jsfsubmit/showAttachment?tmpl=raw&id=00Pd0000006EH0qEAG.

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SOURCE Stratus Video Interpreting



2014

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