Professionally trained medical interpreters

Program basics

  • Professionally trained staff provide interpretation services for patients with limited English proficiency
  • Implemented in both outpatient and inpatient health care settings
  • Interpreters receive at least 40 hours of training, including on-the-job training and health care interpretation courses

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Non-native english speakers

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Improved patient-provider communication
  • Increased satisfaction for patients with limited English proficiency
  • Increased likelihood of patients obtaining preventative screenings, filling prescriptions, and successfully managing conditions

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Ease of access to interpreters is key. Patient-centered programs which allow access to interpreters in multiple ways (bedside telephones, tablets, video conferencing, etc.) can improve overall patient-provider communication.
  • Professional interpreters with more hours of training and experience are less likely to make errors in health-specific communication compared to ad-hoc interpreters, impacting health outcomes and patient satisfaction.
  • Clinicians cite time constraints (particularly with respect to life saving procedures) and the lack of immediate availability of interpreters as major barriers to use.

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