Cost effectiveness of language services in hospital emergency rooms

The Foundation's program, Speaking Together: National Language Services Network, was designed to support hospitals to improve the quality and availability of health care language services for patients with limited English proficiency.This contract supports the implementation of a randomized controlled study to examine the cost-effectiveness of using professional interpreters in Emergency Department (ED) visits with Spanish-speaking, limited English proficiency patients. The study will be conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR). The purpose of this study is to estimate the effect that professional interpreters have on resource utilization and patient/provider satisfaction in the ED compared to the language services usually offered in these settings. Specific research questions will include the following: (1) What are the costs of providing professional interpreters in the ED? (2) Does the use of such interpreters improve patient outcomes? (3) Do physicians see a benefit to using such interpreters in the ED visit? and (4) Are there sufficient cost offsets to make a business case for the use of professional interpreters in the ED? A second goal of the project is to demonstrate that random assignment can be used ethically and effectively in studies of the cost-efficiency of interpreter services in health care encounters.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $249,945.00

Awarded on: 12/19/2007

Time frame: 2/1/2008 - 1/31/2010

Grant Number: 55879


Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

600 Alexander Park
P.O. Box 2393
Princeton, 08543-2393


Ann D. Bagchi
Project Director


Stacey B. Dale
Project Director