healthcare telephone interpreting

Fact About Healthcare Telephone Interpreting

(Last Updated On: August 10, 2020)
Fact About Healthcare Telephone Interpreting

We have come a long way from the days when we didn’t believe in mental disorders and tried to treat physical illnesses by isolating the patients and asking a priest to pray for them. Torture, exorcism, and chaining people to beds were a few of the horrible techniques we used in the past to treat people when we didn’t understand what was ailing them. Although humans have always been scared of the unknown, their inability to treat diseases had more to do with their conservativeness and refusal to change their methods. Even accepting scientific methods took a lot longer than it should have and that’s what slowed down the progress of humanity and made us lose a lot of lives to different diseases. There was a time when people died of common colds too simply because they didn’t get the treatment they needed. Misdiagnosis was also a pretty common thing back then. And when doctors couldn’t understand anyone’s illness, they’d give them too much medicine that any hope of defeating the disease was lost forever.

healthcare telephone interpreting
healthcare telephone interpreting

Today, science has given us remarkable methods of treating patients. We have better equipment, modern medicine, cure of diseases that were incurable a century ago, and patient care that helps them get healthy quickly. We also have better diagnostic techniques so that new disease goes undiagnosed and patients get the exact treatment that they need. And the great thing about modern medical science is that it keeps on improving every day. There are new cures being discovered every other day. Many believe that a cure for cancer is not that far away either. We have also taken great aspects of technology and incorporated them into the medical field to improve the healthcare industry a bit more. With the help of the internet, the doctors always have access to huge amount of scientific data. They can also store their old cases on their computers and access them easily whenever needed. File system, although sufficient for its time, wasted a lot of time whenever someone had to locate something in there. Computers don’t have that problem. One search and you will find the exact file you needed.

But there is no rule that says we should stop progressing after a certain point, especially when there is room for improvement. The medical field, despite all its progress, still needed something to help the healthcare professionals and patients a bit more. And one thing that came up as a solution was telephone interpreting.

If you have ever been in a country where you don’t speak the native language, you must have come across someone who didn’t know your language and you tried frantically to make them understand your point. Now, imagine the same scenario but in a hospital. If you end up in the emergency but no one there speaks your language, it will be a huge problem for you and your health. Not to mention it will be very disturbing for the healthcare professionals who won’t be able to ask you about your allergies and treat you properly for your illness. Even if the hospital does have an interpreter on speed dial, it will be a while until they can get there. But no one ends up in the emergency with a condition that can be treated after a while. This is why telephone interpreting was badly needed in the healthcare industry.

Facts About Healthcare Telephone Interpreting:


Since every field is different from the other, telephone interpreting in the healthcare industry is not the same as it would be in the business world. There are different rules to follow in a hospital and different things are at stake. This is why there are a few facts that every interpreter should know about this field so they can do their job properly:

  1. Know-How of Medical Terms:

You can’t work as a telephone interpreter for a hospital if you don’t have know-how of medical terminology. Doctors and patients cannot carry out their conversation without mentioning medical conditions but if you don’t know the names of those conditions, you won’t be able to interpret them. It is also important to know the meaning of each term so if need arises, you can explain it to the patient.

  1. Keep it Simple:

Other than the medical terms you have to use, don’t insert difficult words in the conversation. For the sake of everyone involved, you must keep the conversation simple and precise so the doctors can get to the point quickly and give their patients the much-needed treatment.

  1. Don’t Involve Emotions:

When a doctor has to inform their patient about the diagnosis, they know how to do it because they have had years of practice in the field. But as an interpreter, it may be hard for you to inform someone about their condition. However, it is important to always keep this in mind that you can’t involve your emotion in the interpretation. You have to stay calm if you wish to do your job professionally.

  1. Good Connection:

Healthcare interpreting is very important and cannot be performed on a poor connection. The phone line or the internet connection, depending on the means of communication, has to be good so the call doesn’t break halfway through and leave the patient and healthcare professionals stuck with their problem.

Healthcare telephone interpreting is not an easy job to do but if you have the right expertise and experience, you will be able to pull it off successfully.