Sight translation by Mary Luczki.

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) technology has made it possible for LEP and Deaf patients to have instant access to an interpreter. Over the past several months we have explored how to select the best VRI company and ensure the interpreters used are of the highest caliber. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the medical facility is equipped to handle VRI technology so that patients, providers and interpreters can best work together without technical and network glitches and interruptions.

Below are the minimum upload and download requirements that InDemand suggests for each of its customers:

  • 5mbps upload speed
  • -65 dBm download (dBm measures radio frequency (RF) power/signal strength). The closer the dBm number is to 0, the stronger the signal.

Testing…Testing 123

Before deployment of any VRI services, it’s critical to thoroughly test the VRI carts and the network. By running a series of real life simulations, facilities will have a better idea if their network is best equipped to handle the demands of VRI.

For example:

  • If five VRI carts have been deployed, then consider running all five carts at the same time spread out across the facility. By testing all five at the same time and at varying distances from the Internet source, your IT Department can determine if the video quality degrades due to increased traffic.
  • If the facility is registering 10 Mbps upload, double the minimum requirements suggested by InDemand, but several carts are running at the same time, then video quality may degrade. Knowing the results of such stress tests can help IT determine if upgrading the network is necessary.

Advancing with Technology

As technology advances so does the need to upgrade the infrastructure that supports it. Often times the biggest barrier to upgrading the networking in a facility is actually the facility itself. If a hospital was built before wireless access points were an architectural consideration (concrete or metal mesh lined walls are often used in older buildings), then it will be especially challenging to roll out extensive networking upgrades. However, most hospitals were built with the ability to run new networking lines as needed; the challenge that remains is time and money.

Facilities that are on the fence about investing in network upgrades should keep the following points in mind:

  • VRI technology and internet capabilities are advancing but will only be as useful and reliable as the network that is currently in place.
  • The demand for interpreting services are on the rise and VRI is an incredible tool to meet that demand; technology must be in place to support it.
  • Compliance with language access requires interpreters and auxiliary aides to be effective; VRI services that aren’t supported with sufficient networking do not meet compliance standards and expose the facility to potential lawsuits.

VRI technology has opened the door to immediate communication for thousands of patients and expanded the ways in which providers and patients communicate. Ensuring the best VRI provider is selected is half of the equation; securing a solid network to support the VRI technology is the other. Remember, quality VRI companies will support the provider during VRI roll-out and beyond to ensure that providers understand all the options and how each one will impact the patient experience.