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10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using OPI, According to Research: Part 2


“Communication is critical to providing effective care to patients.” Makes perfect sense, right? But of all the methods available to provide language services, what’s the benefit to Over-the-Phone Interpretation?

If you find yourself wishing for a definitive research project analyzing the benefits of OPI, then you’re in luck!

This is where the new Toronto study comes in. In our last blog post, we talked about the first three of ten advantages St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto experienced after a year of including OPI in its language services program. Here’s three more:

4. Providers could care for patients in emergency and drop-in situations

The results showed that OPI added convenience and appropriateness in emergency situations when compared to on-site interpreters. Providers could treat patients without waiting for an interpreter to arrive, which depending on the language, could take several hours.

It also made it more possible for non-bilingual providers to care for bilingual patients in emergency and drop-in situations. Studies have reported unbalanced workloads in group practices where there are limited bilingual physicians and providers do not use professional interpreters. The bilingual physician is often overwhelmed with more patients. With OPI, providers were able to distribute workloads more evenly and increase availability of treatment to LEP patients.

Finally, patients did not have to go through the hardship of providing their own interpreters as often. Providing their own interpreters can interfere with patient privacy, and more often than not family members, especially children, are asked to interpret for patients, which can cause problems for relationships. These ‘interpreters’ are also more likely to commit errors that lead to poor medical outcomes. After implementing OPI, providers asking patients to bring their own interpreters to appointments dropped from 11% to 4%.

5. Providers find OPI appropriate for the majority of care

The majority of providers felt that OPI was appropriate for the majority of percentage of care. For a break down:

Type of care       Percentage said it was appropriate

Supportive Care                90%

Acute Care                         88%

Chronic Care                      86%

Mental Health Care          73%

As for why OPI was reported to be less appropriate for mental health care, providers explained that for those patients who were experiencing paranoia, dementia or experiencing delusions, a disembodied voice could be difficult for these patients to work with.

6. Improved privacy and accessibility

Both patients and providers felt that patient privacy increased. 67% of providers and 51% of patients felt that patient safety improved when they started using OPI to communicate.

The providers also felt that the use of OPI had a positive impact on the ‘bigger picture,’ such as patient autonomy and patient access to their organization. 78% believed patient autonomy improved and 73% believed patient access to the organization improved.

Next time… the last four points of the OPI Research.

Stay tuned!

Read Part 3 here.

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