Interpreters for Hospitals and Doctor’s Offices

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Your health is a serious topic, and information on this topic should never be lost in translation. If you find yourself in a healthcare setting with a language barrier between you and the medical professionals, you’re probably thinking, “How did I get here?” However, what you should be thinking is, “How do I move forward from here?”

Moving forward isn’t easy in your native tongue in a hospital or doctor’s office as you set appointments, talk with nurses and doctors and so on, let alone in a foreign language. For whatever path in life you took that has led you to having to communicate with a healthcare professional in a different language, this is something you definitely don’t want to gamble on. “Did they say everything is fine or nothing is fine?!” should not be a question on your mind.

So how do you move past this language barrier in a healthcare setting? With an interpreter! Here three options:

 

  1. Google Translator
    • Pros
      • It’s free and easy to access if you have internet on your smart device.
      • It’s private – there isn’t a third person there who you would have to feel embarrassed or secretive in front of.
    • Cons
      • It’s not exactly a program where you can place your trust on a reliable translation. A computer is listening to you and the doctor slowly talk into it as it translates, and the translations aren’t always 100% reliable. The program can easily misunderstand terms and dialects/accents and then you can’t be sure if you really did understand everything the doctor had to say about your health concerns.
      • You are reliant on a good internet connection.

 

  1. Hire a Professional
    • Pros
      • Face-to-face interactions with a professional who is guaranteed to do their job to the best of their ability.
      • They can also read body language and work that into their interpretations.
      • Happens in real time and can be actively involved in the translations.
      • Can also immediately translate written information, such as prescriptions and other various information.
    • Cons
      • Expensive – Having an interpreter in person isn’t cheap. Not only do you pay for the interpreter’s service, you have to pay for all of their time not “technically” in service, such as travel fees/expenses, wait time, etc.
      • Time consuming – You have to do the research to find an interpreter and contact them to set up the meeting. What if you’ve had an emergency and this isn’t an option?
      • Lack of privacy – it could be that you feel uncomfortable with a stranger knowing your personal medical information.

 

  1. Use a Phone Interpreting Service
    • Pros
      • Mobile access – With modern apps like Chatlas, if you have a phone or a smart device, you can easily get in touch with a professional interpreter of your choice anytime, anywhere.
      • Instant access – You only have to log in, choose your interpreter and wait for them to answer before you can begin the interpretation. No extra meetings or appointments necessary.
      • Privacy – the interpreter cannot see the client and does not have access to the client’s personal information.
      • Affordability – You get the quality of a professional without the exorbitant price because you are working electronically with the professional rather than in person. You also don’t have to pay for extras such as wait times and travel fees/expenses.
    • Cons
      • You don’t have the visual of a person right next to you who can also take into consideration body language in their interpretations.
      • You are reliant on a good internet or telephone connection.
      • It is a bit impersonal – because there is no private information shared and you cannot see each other during the service call, it could feel a little too impersonal and insensitive in a medical situation.

As you move forward and take control of your health, the last thing you need to be doing is worrying if you’ve understood everything the healthcare providers have told you. Naturally, it’s of course up to you if you want to gamble on your health, but that isn’t something anyone recommends. Don’t be afraid to play it safe and find an interpreter solution that works for you.

 

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