Travel, time, and cost savings associated with a university medical center's video medical interpreting program

Ilana Sigal, Parul Dayal, Jeffrey S. Hoch, Jamie L. Mouzoon, Elena Morrow, James P. Marcin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Patients with limited English proficiency experience disparities in health care access, quality, costs, and outcomes. Providing qualified medical interpreting services (MIS) in the health care setting can reduce these disparities. Unfortunately, health organizations face logistical and financial difficulties in meeting the need for qualified medical interpreters. Introduction: This descriptive review evaluated travel, time, and cost savings associated with video interpreting services compared to traditional in-person services. Materials and Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of all inpatient and outpatient medical interpreting encounters at a large academic hospital delivered through video and in person between 2006 and 2017. Outcome measures included interpreter travel distance, time, and cost for in-person encounters and savings associated with avoided travel for services provided through video. Results: We reviewed 281,701 interpreting encounters, including 249,357 in person and 32,344 by video. Video encounters occurred both for on-site and off-site visits. For on-site encounters, the use of video resulted in an average round trip walking distance saved of 0.75 miles (SD = 0.33) and an average round trip walking time saved of 14.75 min (SD = 6.30) per encounter. For off-site encounters, the use of video resulted in an average round trip driving distance saved of 8.63 miles (SD= 9.13), an average round trip driving time saved of 23.78 min (SD = 9.50), and an average round trip driving cost savings of $4.66 per encounter. Conclusions: This single institution review of the travel, time, and cost savings associated with providing MIS through video demonstrates the opportunity for more efficient use of time and resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1234-1239
Number of pages6
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Volume26
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Business administration
  • Telecommunications
  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine
  • Travel savings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

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