Video remote interpreting in times of crisis: building capacity of interpreting services in Australian healthcare settings
The provision of interpreting services for communities whose first language is not English has been of paramount importance in Australia for the last fifty years, especially in healthcare settings. Confronted with a crisis of unprecedented scale in the second quarter of 2020, Australian States and Territories have had to adopt crisis management strategies to ensure equitable access to services are guaranteed for all communities. In this context, and because face-to-face interpreting is no longer an option for each consultation, clinics, hospitals and GP practices have been urged to resort to remote interpreting, i.e. the use of technologies to gain access to an interpreter. This study sought to explore the usability of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) in Australian healthcare settings, and the way the demands for this new modality had been met. To do so, an inventory of Remote Interpreting (RI) services was compiled by means of a literature review, and data collected from different stakeholders via mixed-methods (surveys and interviews). The triangulation of the data collected aimed to identify how and if the use of VRI proved efficient, and if this modality was expected to replace onsite and telephone interpreting and to what extent. The outcomes showed a shift from Telephone Interpreting to Video Remote Interpreting as the preferred remote modality. Another conclusion evidenced by the findings is that wherever possible, onsite remains the interpreting modality favoured by both the patients and the professionals involved in the communication exchange. However, the findings also highlight the future of interpreted exchanges will include more remote modalities as part of a hybrid scenario.