iPod Touch, Not Beeper, Better Dispatches Interpreters

Intervention Title:
Utilizing iPod Touches to Streamline Interpreter Service Requests

The new system decreased the response time for Interpreter Services by more than 50 percent. Prior to the introduction of the iPod touch dispatch system the average response time from the provider’s initial beeper page to the arrival of the interpreter was 22 minutes. This fell to 10 minutes with the new web-based dispatch system.

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC)
736 Cambridge Street
Brighton, MA 02135

SEMC is a 252-bed tertiary care center located in Brighton, Massachusetts. For fiscal year 2011 SEMC had 62,619 unique patients for a total of 245,788 outpatient/13,983 inpatient/33,737 Emergency Department visits. St. Elizabeth’s is a major academic teaching facility affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine.

Carla Fogaren, RN
System Director of Diversity Initiatives and Interpreter Services
Steward Health Care
P: (781) 375-3197

Innovation Implementation:
The challenge of providing effective language services in a timely manner is something that many hospitals and health systems, particularly large, sprawling institutions, face.

At St. Elizabeth’s, staff had to page a number whenever language services were required. The interpreter services department would then call the provider back prior to dispatching an interpreter. Depending on the location of the request and of the interpreter, it could take up to 20 minutes from the time the initial request was placed to when the interpreter arrived.

To decrease the time, staff at St. Elizabeth’s began using a wireless iPod Touch system to alert the interpreters when a request for language series was placed. The iPod Touch allowed the providers to enter patient information, the type of language service requested and the preferred language of the patient all at once, as opposed to beeping the interpreter, waiting for a response and then providing the interpreter with the information.

St. Elizabeth’s held multiple training sessions with the providers to teach them how to best utilize the new technology. Staff adopted the new process very quickly, and the streamlined process not only decreased response time by 50 percent, but staff also report increased respect and awareness of the interpreters.