Australian telehealth company Coviu has partnered with language services provider Ezispeak Health to provide on-demand access to language support via video telehealth.
Available in over 300 languages, the integrated service instantly connects patients with their GPs and a National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters-certified translator.
According to a press statement, Ezispeak Health is the only language solution made exclusively for the healthcare sector. With over 3,000 interpreters, the private firm also caters to other industries, including the government, telecommunications and utilities.
In Ezispeak’s case study with the Alfred Hospital, staff reported having quicker access to language support that takes between two to three minutes without the need to pre-book. Both staff and patients found the service easy to use, describing it as a ‘better or equal option’ than telephone interpreting.
Australia is a multicultural diverse nation with around seven million people coming from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, including migrants and those of indigenous descent.
Given this reality, it is impractical to have a ‘one language fits all approach’ to healthcare delivery, Coviu said. There is an increased risk of CALD people misunderstanding their diagnoses due to the language barrier, which could result in hospital readmission or worsening health conditions.
“We underestimate the importance of understanding and being understood in a medical setting. The healthcare system is known for being complex at the best of times – and that is when language isn’t a barrier,” said Coviu CEO and founder Dr Silvia Pfeiffer.
During the pandemic, Coviu noted that CALD patients commonly bring their family or friends to act as interpreters. However, this is not an ideal situation for those who want to protect their sensitive information.
Their latest offering, the company said, will make those patients rely less on their peers with access to an independent interpreter who will remain impartial and medically accurate.
“Through on-demand video interpreting, the patients from a CALD background can better communicate with staff, receive more equitable medical care and allow them to be truly heard in the process,” Dr Pfeiffer said.