Language and cultural understanding provided by skilled language interpreting services helps injured workers understand the why, when and how behind their workers’ compensation claim.
This applies beyond the population of immigrant workers who don’t speak English as a first language. According to the US Census, there are approximately 19 million Limited English Proficient (LEP) workers, which is nearly one in 10 working-age adults!
Not All LEP Individuals Are Immigrants
Did you know that not all LEP individuals are immigrants? According to this 2018 statistic from workingimmigrants.com, 13% of the LEP population are native-born. Of these native-born LEP adults, 77% speak Spanish.
When you consider the entire population of LEP workers, though, a common misconception is that non-English speaking workers speak primarily Spanish. The fact is, we have a large portion of our LEP population who speak a wide variety of other languages. For instance, the Asian population has grown 72% since the year 2000 with the largest groups being of Chinese, Indian and Filipino origin.
Language Services and Increasing Workforce Diversity
Naturally, the need for language interpreting services in workers’ compensation has increased proportionately in response to our country’s growing diversity. In addition, the demand for language services has accelerated during the pandemic. Navigating the complexities of the workers’ comp system, as well as the quarantine, and now the vaccination rollout, have been challenging even for native English speakers who access news and information through traditional news and social media platforms. So, consider working adults who are LEP. They are definitely at a major disadvantage. This significantly increases the potential for confusion, misunderstandings, and poor recovery outcomes.
Language Services are Essential in Workers’ Comp
One of the main goals when using language interpretation services is to improve access to care and recovery for injured workers who don’t speak English. Navigating the offices, the appointments, the consults, and new medical professionals can be overwhelming.
Medical terminology and guidelines for taking medications are confusing enough to English-speaking patients. Imagine, then, when complexities are compounded by a language barrier. It aggravates the situation. Patients can end up frustrated and scared and they may not comprehend how much or how often to take their medications. It is important to understand that these miscommunications and misunderstandings only add time and expense to a workers’ compensation claim.
In addition to the goal of improving access to care and recovery for the injured worker, language interpreting services can reduce adversarial perceptions. For example, injured or ill employees may have questions about the copious amounts of paperwork that arrives from their adjuster. Such communications include the medical release, state forms, medical records, documents to aid in the compensability decision, and so on. Because interpreters have the appropriate training and experience, they not only deliver a word-for-word translation, but they are also able to convey meaning and context.
Interpreters Save Time and Expense on Claims
Offering interpretation services for LEP workers provides these essential benefits:
- reduces language gaps
- worker feels supported
- promotes employee satisfaction and wellness
- saves time and expense
- avoids attorney involvement
- decreases unnecessary litigation
If an interpreter can help you decrease wait times for medical appointments and bridge the communication gap for LEP workers, which leads to a more satisfied employee, less time and expense, and less litigation, why wouldn’t you want to offer that service? It’s a win-win all the way around!
Video Remote Interpreting (VRI): Essential During Pandemic
Luckily, advancements in technology have facilitated the ability of language service providers to offer remote language interpreting services with 24/7/365 accessibility. Services like Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) has proven invaluable during the pandemic.
For example, we used VRI to access two translators at the same time to communicate in a rare language to ensure that an injured worker fully understood his plan of care. In a case where an injured worker in Fresno, California spoke Ixil, one of 21 different Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala, we couldn’t find a local Ixil interpreter who also spoke English. So, we presented a creative solution to our client. Hire two interpreters: one who translated from Ixil to Spanish and one from Spanish to English using Video Remote Interpreting (VRI).
5 Valuable Reasons to Use VRI in Workers’ Comp Right Now
VRI has many advantages that are applicable in our workers’ compensation environment, especially while we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are five of the most valuable reasons to use VRI right now:
- 100% secure and private as well as HIPAA compliant
- Consistent with social distancing guidelines
- Expands the pool of interpreters for remote locations and exotic languages (like Ixil)
- Mobility of service allows for ease of implementation that facilitates and streamlines medical appointments
- Allows for proper follow-up, using a cellphone, tablet, or computer
Another big value-added reason to use VRI? It provides a professional, easy-to-use interface for employers to connect with LEP injured workers at a lower cost while addressing your ethical commitment to provide them with access to care through the use of essential language services.
Are You Fully Prepared to Communicate With Your Diverse Workforce?
By offering VRI services, language service providers facilitate a deeper understanding of the workers’ compensation system for LEP workers, ensuring better outcomes. It’s a no-brainer for workers’ compensation payers. What language(s) are spoken amongst your working population? Do you have interpreters available who can speak their language? If you don’t, it’s time to start looking.
For more information about MTI America, Visit: mtiamerica.com