Improvements in patient care: videoconferencing to improve access to interpreters during clinical consultations for refugee and immigrant patients

Aust Health Rev. 2015 Sep;39(4):395-399. doi: 10.1071/AH14124.


Objective: To demonstrate the suitability of accessing interpreters via videoconference for medical consultations and to assess doctor and patient perceptions of this compared with either on-site or telephone interpreting.

Methods: We assessed the suitability and acceptability of accessing interpreters via videoconference during out-patient clinical consultations in two situations: (i) when the doctor and patient were in a consulting room at a central hospital and the interpreter sat remotely; and (ii) when the doctor, patient and interpreter were each at separate sites (during a telehealth consultation). The main outcome measures were patient and doctor satisfaction, number of problems recorded and acceptability compared with other methods for accessing an interpreter.

Results: Ninety-eight per cent of patients were satisfied overall with the use of an interpreter by video. When comparing videoconference interpreting with telephone interpreting, 82% of patients thought having an interpreter via video was better or much better, 15% thought it was the same and 3% considered it worse. Compared with on-site interpreting, 16% found videoconferencing better or much better, 58% considered it the same and 24% considered it worse or much worse.

Conclusions: The present study has demonstrated that accessing an interpreter via videoconference is well accepted and preferred to telephone interpreting by both doctors and patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Communication Barriers*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilingualism*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Refugees*
  • Victoria
  • Videoconferencing*