Technology helps Moffitt Cancer Center overcome communication hurdles

The Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, is one of many provider organizations nationwide deploying technology to help caregivers and patients clearly communicate when language proves to be a barrier.

Through the use of video remote interpretation (VRI), Moffitt is able to meet language accommodation requirements fairly quickly. Caregivers can use an iPad to access an app that provides patients direct eye contact with a medically trained interpreter, who then can help them understand medical insight from a physician; VRI also allows helps physicians to understand how such patients are feeling, which, says Prado Antolino, the hospital's language services manager, lowers the odds of misdiagnoses due to communication glitches.

FierceMobileHealthcare reached out to Antolino to discuss Moffitt's VRI deployment and the benefits gained by the hospital and patients.

FierceMobileHealthcare: What prompted Moffitt to adopt the technology?

Prado Antolino: To provide services to our deaf and/or hard-of-hearing patients when they walked into our facility without an appointment. The potential to provide access to patients who speak languages we can't. VRI provided an opportunity to offer reasonable access until a live interpreter could arrive at the facility. The goals are to provide access to more patients who speak languages for which we don’t have live interpreters on staff.

FMH: Can you provide an example of how the technology has boosted patient care and interaction?

Antolino: It has expanded access for patients who speak certain languages we don’t staff, which in turns translates into a better patient experience. One result has been that more limited English proficiency patients can meaningfully participate in their own healthcare and make informed decisions. Appropriate language access also reduces medical errors due to a language barrier and miscommunication.

FMH: Given the benefits what do you hope it may provide in the future?

Antolino: I anticipate it will be widely available as an operational feature within all hospitals soon. Ideally, all healthcare facilities will have a video interpreting feature built into their infrastructures in the inpatient setting, or in each consult room in the outpatient setting. At least that is what we hope to accomplish at Moffitt.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.