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Harris Health System begins using sign language video technology

Harris Health System in Harris County, Houston, Texas, has begun using sign language video technology to better communicate with its hearing-impaired and hard-of-hearing patients, according to a news release. Connecting patients with physicians and nurses in a timely and convenient manner is one of the driving forces behind the new portable interpretation service.
New iPad-equipped wheeled carts, similar to rolling blood-pressure stands, act as in-person translators of American Sign Language for patients and staff. The program has four such carts with speakers and audio enhancement capability at Harris Health’s Ben Taub, Quentin Mease and Lyndon B. Johnson hospitals, all in Houston.
“In outpatient surgery, I can get the portable device and in a minute turn it on to communicate directly with the interpreter who provides face-to-face service between me and my patient,” Marcy Balderas, RN, clinical nurse, surgery clinic, Harris Health Outpatient Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, said in the release.
Graciela Zozaya, manager, Harris Health Interpretation Services, said the on-demand availability of the technology means less waiting time for patients and better time management efficiency for healthcare providers and staff.
In the past, Harris Health used a service that provided in-person interpreters at a cost up to $105 an hour, according to the release. The higher cost was assessed for calls requested urgently, during off-business hours or on weekends. All requests were charged a minimum of two hours.
The iPad carts, Language You See, use the hospital’s Wi-Fi service and charge on a per minute basis with no minimum requirements for interpretations, according to the release. The service is available 24 hours a day/seven days a week. While convenience and providing patients with timely medical care are essential, the new devices also are expected to provide Harris Health with savings of about 37% of costs for sign language interpretations.

By | 2015-07-24T13:51:20-04:00 July 14th, 2015|Categories: General|0 Comments

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Barry Bottino
Barry Bottino is a freelance writer and editor who has more than 25 years of experience at various newspapers and magazines.

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