Interpreting Services: Lift Up the Language Barrier in Healthcare System

Interpreting Services
Interpreting Services

Misunderstanding in communication and mistranslation in medical treatment can be a matter of life and death. Therefore, interpreting services in the healthcare system is critically important. Learn more about interpreting services in healthcare settings with us through this article.

Interpreting service in healthcare

In general, interpreting service is the provision of spoken or sign communication language, in which the interpreter conveys the language of the speaker into the language of the listener.

Interpreting services in the healthcare system is a niche that requires interpreters professional, in-depth knowledge of medical terminology as well as medical circumstances. They assist doctors and patients in communication. Interpreting service has a significant effect on the treatment process. What they convey will help doctors in discussing the medical history of patients and making a correct diagnosis then explaining treatments to patients.

Interpreting service in healthcare
Interpreting service in healthcare

Working as a medical interpreter has a lot of pressure because the working environment requires free-error communication. A small error can lead to wrong diagnosis and risk for patients. According to a report, medical interpreters make fewer mistakes than other interpreters. However, there are still some mistakes they can’t avoid.

For example, the omission mistakes sometimes happen when interpreters forget the instructions or skip on some important information of doctors. False fluency happens when the interpreters don’t have a good knowledge of the medical terminology in one or both languages. They use the wrong words to describe the situation of patients, to convey the explanation and treatment from doctors.

Types of interpreting services in the healthcare system

In-person interpreting service. This is the best way to do medical interpreting jobs. In this way, interpreters stay in the same room, at the same time with doctors and patients. Therefore, they can convey the communication correctly. They can proactively handle unwanted issues timely as well. In-person interpreting services bring comfort to both doctors and patients.

Telephone interpreting service. The only advantage of this service type is cost-effective. However, it’s more likely to miss information via a telephone call, especially when interpreters have to work with children and elderlies. In bad and urgent situations, telephone interpreting is not recommended.

Video call interpreting. This way is similar to telephone interpreting but it is more advantageous. Because via video call, doctors can join to see the patients. It’s helpful when patients have difficulties in explaining their symptoms and medical history.

The difference between hospital translators and hospital interpreters

Hospital translators and hospital interpreters have the same responsibility of breaking the language barrier in the healthcare system. However, they use different mediums in their works. Hospital translators work with written words, while hospital interpreters use spoken words to complete their jobs.

The difference between hospital translators and hospital interpreters
The difference between hospital translators and hospital interpreters

The translating service is provided for vital documents like agreements, applications, notices of rights, informed consent documents, complaint forms, discharge forms, and much more.

Meanwhile, interpreting is provided for verbal communication among doctors, patients, and colleges. A medical interpreter, moreover, possesses and demonstrates the attributes like ethical principles, patient confidentiality, language proficiency including specialized vocabulary, terminology, and phraseology. Besides, they also have the ability to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially.

The demand for interpreting services in healthcare settings

The number of people who speak limited English is growing rapidly in the USA.  According to a Migration Policy Institute’s report in 2018, 22% of the US population does not speak English at home. Nevada had the highest share at 31%, followed by Florida at 29%.

In fact, the United States Census Bureau reports that at least 350 languages are spoken in American homes. While some U.S. cities such as New York, Miami, and Los Angeles have larger Limited English Proficient populations. In 2018, the country had approximately 25.1 million LEP people. This number will still go up in the next few years.

That’s why the demand for interpreting services in the healthcare system increases dramatically as well. Professional interpreting services can assist in keeping patients safe from coercion. It can also assist healthcare professionals in identifying patients who have unrecognized adult or child protection issues, as well as those who are at risk of human trafficking, gender-based violence, and other forms of abuse.


You have got an overview of Interpreting services in the healthcare system. Nowadays, providing interpreting services is a must in many healthcare facilities. Therefore, the job opportunity is more open. If you are interested in languages and working in the medical field, you can choose interpreting jobs at hospitals, clinics, healthcare centers, and much more.