Professionally trained medical interpreters

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help residents navigate public benefits programs and access health services. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • 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

Evidence and impacts


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

  • 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

Best practices in 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.