Martha Jefferson Healthwise: NexTalk

March 27, 2013

Healthcare providers in Charlottesville are using a new tool to communicate with hearing impaired and foreign speaking patients.

The "NexTalk" program is already being used at Martha Jefferson Hospital, but now it's being introduced to Blue Ridge Internal Medicine.

At Blue Ridge Internal Medicine, Dr. Louisa Hann says they see a good number of patients who need an interpreter. Most often they're needed to translate a foreign language like Spanish or help a hearing impaired person communicate through sign language.

"It is helpful because in the past they've had to schedule a live interpreter or bring a family member, which is often not ideal to them, but because this is an instant service, we can provide we can schedule to see nurses and physicians anytime and get immediate translation right away in the office or exam room," said Dr. Louisa Hann, Blue Ridge Internal Medicine.

The program is called NexTalk and it's a computer based video interpreter service.

The healthcare provider chooses a language. Next they enter the doctor's name and the name of the medical office. The program then locates an agent and they pop up on the monitor.

The doctor and patient are then able to talk with the help of the interpreter.

"Because it's on a computer screen, but it is a live person who's professional and introduces themselves. It's just as effective as having a professional translator in the room and more effective than having someone who might not understand all the medical terms, such as someone's child or family member," said Dr. Hann.

Dr. Hann says NexTalk is a good tool for patients, because it's ensures clear communication, which is important when it comes to your medical care.

"Clear communication is essential at every medical visit. We need to understand exactly what the patient is telling us and we need to educate and communicate effectively in order for a patient to understand our instructions as well," said Dr. Hann.

Whether it's sign language, Spanish, French, or any other language, Dr. Hann says having access to this video interpretation service will hopefully make patients more comfortable and make each doctor's visit much easier to understand.

Blue Ridge Internal Medicine is the first of Martha Jefferson Hospital's practices to get this technology. The hospital is hoping to expand the service to other offices.

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