UMass Memorial Expands Interpretation Services for Non-English Speaking Patients
In response to its increasingly diverse population, Worcester’s UMass Memorial Medical Center has shared how it is meeting the demand for non-English speaking patient interpretation services. This NEC member is the largest healthcare system in Central Massachusetts and the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
At UMass Memorial Medical Center’s three Worcester campuses, the number of non-English speaking patients has risen 22 percent in the last five years. And nearly a third of those patients arrive in the emergency room with urgent and/or critical health issues. In response, UMass’s interpreter services department has quickly grown into a group of 34 certified medically-proficient, bilingual staff. Using phone and video-call technology, non-English patients have been able to speak and communicate with UMass’s medical team in just seconds. UMass Memorial currently has 100 portable video tablets in use today, but plans to increase that number to 220. At UMass Memorial, it has become clear that professional, real-time interpreter services can reduce verbal and cultural miscommunication, leading to more accurate diagnoses and a better patient experience and health outcome. As a result of these committed efforts, the department has been able to reduce readmission rates for non-English speakers from 31 percent to 26 percent in just a few months.
“As a medical society, it is our belief that health care is a basic human right,” Dr. Maryanne Bombaugh, the President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said. “And expanding efforts to make available to patients services that promote access to optimal care is not only a move in the right direction, it is an ethical obligation.”
The Council commends UMass Memorial Medical Center on their commitment to providing the utmost care to all residents of Central Massachusetts.