Cisco Blogs

Crossing Health Care Language Barriers

- August 8, 2006 - 0 Comments

Cisco’s HCIN Ensures Nothing is Lost in Translation The growing diversity of American culture and language is nowhere more apparent than in health care, as any visitor to a hospital emergency room can attest. Cisco is addressing the need to cut across communications barriers between patients and health care professionals with its Health Care Interpreter Network (HCIN), from the company’s Unified Communications product portfolio.Cisco's HCINOn Aug. 7, San Mateo Medical Center demonstrated HCIN along with partner hospitals Contra Costa Health Services and San Joaquin General Hospital, as well as a growing list of supporters, including the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems; the California Department of Managed Health Care; and the California HealthCare Foundation.With 40 percent of its residents speaking a language other than English, California is a smorgesboard of sounds and expressions where there is an acute need for interpreters in health care settings.”The half-hour long wait for a translator is over for many non-English speakers at the county’s publicly funded hospital, thanks to a new video-interpreter network,” said the San Francisco Examiner Aug. 7 about HCIN.A new video from News@Cisco clearly demonstrates the difference HCIN in action can make.Some 300 to 400 hospital staff at participating hospitals using HCIN now have quick and easy access to interpreter services via video conference or phone. The network currently routes approximately 3,000 video conference and phone calls per month, and interpreters within the participating hospitals respond to 1,200 of these calls in five languages, including Cambodian, Hindi, Hmong, Spanish, and Tongan.”It is crucial that we develop new cost-effective ways to provide language assistance in health care settings, in anticipation of the new pending requirements for health plans in California to provide trained interpreters to its limited English speaking members,” Cindy Ehnes, director of the California Department of Managed Care, said in a statement.”Internet-based video technology is one of the best low-cost, high-tech solutions I have seen to give patients a confidential and dignified way for limited English speaking patients to communicate effectively with the doctor.” The HCIN utilizes the Cisco Unified Communication system, including Cisco Unified Contact Center Express and Cisco Unified CallManager, to create an automated IP-based voice and video call center that is centrally managed and hosted in Quest Technology Management’s Managed Services and Replication Center. The interpreter system is just beginning its rollout, said Dr. Jeffrey Rideout, Cisco’s VP of Healthcare and Corporate Medical Director. “The HCIN is an important step in delivering better quality care and outcomes for patients regardless of their language or origin. It serves as an innovative, scaleable approach that can be modeled and implemented in communities nationwide.” For more information on HCIN, go to Cisco’s press kit.

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