SBH Health System today announced St. Barnabas Hospital as the first hospital in the Bronx to use Voyce, the 24/7/365 on-demand interpretation system, to support medical interpretation between patients, their families and their care teams. The partnership enables physicians to provide care in 235 languages and dialects, increasing the safety and quality of care for any non-English speaking patient in a culturally diverse borough of New York City.
More than 120 of the Voyce devices have been rolled out to outpatient and inpatient units throughout the hospital since October. A touch on the Voyce screen – an iPad mounted on a rolling cart – connects patients and providers with a live interpreter in three-way conversations that can stretch to as many as nine participants, should family members or other members of a patient’s care team be brought in remotely into the emergency department, ICU or exam room. Providers can also use Voyce to communicate with non-English speaking patients at-home in a telemedicine setting.
At St. Barnabas Hospital, 85 percent of patients are Spanish speakers, and approximately 20 percent speak it exclusively. Voyce interpreters can provide medical interpretation for different dialects of French, Portuguese, Arabic and also less commonly spoken languages, like Mandinka, Hmong, and Marshallese.
Access to quality interpreters can address patient-provider communications challenges that result from limited English proficiency. Communication and language barriers are associated with decreased quality of care and poor clinical outcomes, longer hospital stays, and higher rates of hospital readmissions, says the CMS Office of Minority Health.
“We are providing quality translation, but also cultural and sociological interpretation,” said Lynette Alvarado, SBH Language Access Coordinator. “Especially now, in the middle of the pandemic, which has isolated so many vulnerable people, it is critical to provide our patients with an interpreter who understands them and their needs.”
“Our partnership with St. Barnabas Hospital allows the clinician to seamlessly communicate with their patients who don’t speak English as a first language, which can often be a barrier to treatment and care plan adherence,” said Andrew Royce, chief executive officer of Voyce. “Additionally, taking the friction out of the interpretation process can make a difference for patients, many of whom may not be native tech users, or may have had language barrier difficulties with technology in the past.”
“Facial cues and body language are critical during language interpretation,” said Dr. Mariana Kawalet, a first-year medicine resident at the hospital, who participated in a pilot study and who has continued using Voyce daily. “Patients prefer to see and speak with a friendly interpreter instead of just a voice on the telephone.”
“Using Voyce, I can communicate more effectively with my patients both in-person and during remote telehealth visits,” said Harris Leitstein, a nurse practitioner in St. Barnabas Hospital’s diabetes center. “The technology helps me provide a better, more personalized appointment for patients, regardless of their primary language.”
About SBH Health System
St. Barnabas Hospital is the flagship of the SBH Health System, a teaching institution which cares for an underserved population in the Bronx. A major provider of ambulatory care services, with more than 40,000 outpatient visits annually, the 422-bed hospital includes a Level II trauma center, a stroke center and a hemodialysis center. SBH is also a major provider of behavioral health services through its 19 programs designed to support and meet the mental health needs of adults, teens and children in the borough.
About VOYCE, Inc.
VOYCE, Inc. is a technology company deeply committed to helping people in need facing language barriers, enabling them to easily and quickly communicate and get help. Our professional and qualified interpreters provide interpretation in 220+ languages and dialects, including American Sign Language.