Cambridge, Mass. – Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), a vital and innovative community health system that serves Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities, has been recognized by Amerinet, a leading national healthcare solutions organization, as an Amerinet Healthcare Achievement Award winner in the category of Financial and Operational Improvement. Through this annual awards program, Amerinet recognizes its members for their outstanding and innovative contributions to their patients, community, and business partners in reducing healthcare costs, improving healthcare quality, and serving the community.
CHA was honored for technological improvements to its medical interpreting services that have enhanced its ability to care for a diverse and complex patient population, nearly a third of which speaks a primary language other than English. Recognizing the need to provide professional medical interpreters for all patients requiring language assistance but understanding financial and organizational capacity constraints, CHA launched remote video interpreting, which combines fast interpreter access with the visual benefits of in-person interpreting, such as the ability to pick up on non-verbal cues and a greater ease to build rapport with patients. In a videoconference session, the provider and patient access an interpreter via a wifi-enabled mobile videophone unit.
The results have been uniformly positive. Video interpreting increases efficiency, as interpreters stay at one location and are generally accessed within 45 seconds. This is critical at CHA, which operates three hospital campuses and an extensive network of primary and specialty care clinics spread over several communities. Wait times for in-person interpreting have fallen while the number of interpreted encounters has risen. In the first full year of operation, the number of interpreted encounters at CHA’s Cambridge and Whidden Hospital campuses, which received a majority of the videophone units, increased nearly five percent to 67,305. At the same time, CHA saved over $350,000 in operating expenses as a result of greater efficiency.
Additionally, CHA implemented an online interpreter request system that allows staff to make interpreter requests via an internal website rather than by calling a dispatcher. Since this reduced the need for staff dispatchers, two were redeployed as interpreters, enabling CHA to increase interpreter staffing by 80 hours/week at no extra cost. Combined with videoconference interpreting, the online dispatch system led to a reduction in vendor expenses of over $100,000.
“We are excited to be honored for the work we have done to improve healthcare delivery at our hospitals and clinics,” said Mursal Khaliif, CHA’s associate chief human resources officer. “We are truly ahead of the curve in implementing video technology to better provide language services for our patients, and we appreciate the national recognition of our efforts.”
Two representatives from CHA will be presented with the award at a ceremony which will be held during the 2014 Amerinet Member Conference, May 20-23, in Las Vegas. The winning project will also be featured in a professional banner session and included in a best practices compendium.
As a leading national healthcare solutions organization, Amerinet collaborates with acute and non-acute care providers to create and deliver unique solutions through performance improvement resources, guidance and ongoing support. With better product standardization and utilization, new financial tools beyond contracting and alliances that help lower costs, raise revenue and champion quality, Amerinet enriches healthcare delivery for its members and the communities they serve.
Cambridge Health Alliance is a vital and innovative community health system that provides essential services to Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine.