Hello in many languages written with chalk on blackboard
Written by Jessie Mather-Lingley, Language Services Coordinator, Provincial Language Service / PHSA

Lower Mainland Interpreter Services strives to meet the growing need for translation services by providing medically qualified interpreters for patient appointments.

The demand for interpreters to support communication between patients, families and health care providers continues to grow exponentially as our communities become increasingly multicultural and multilingual. Lower Mainland Interpreter Services (LMIS), which is a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority, strives to meet this growing need by providing medically qualified interpreters for patient appointments. However, there are a limited number of qualified interpreters available at any time. 

A key strategy to ensure availability of interpreters is to reduce cancellation rates for interpreter-assisted sessions, specifically short-notice cancellation rates (requests cancelled with less than 24 hours notice). 

Reducing short notice cancellations has two main benefits:

  1. Ensuring best use of our resources: cancelling interpreter-assisted sessions with appropriate notice allows for the interpreter to be utilized elsewhere. When an interpreter is booked and then cancelled with less than 24 hours notice they cannot be re-deployed to another appointment.
  2. Saving health care costs: interpreters are paid for sessions that are cancelled with less than 24 hours notice. When cancellations are avoided, we can ensure that all of our funds are directed towards patient care.

We know that there are a number of reasons for cancellations and not all can be mitigated. However, there are instances where health care providers and administrative staff can minimize cancellation with less than 24 hours notice. Some requests that are short-notice cancelled have been because:

  • The assignment information is incorrect
  • The patient speaks English
  • The clinic used a family member rather than the interpreter
  • There were two requests for the same session – double booking/duplicated request
  • The health care provider did not show up
  • The health care provider speaks the language
  • The interpreter was not used because the session started early
  • LMIS was not informed of the cancellation or rescheduling of the appointment

Help reduce late cancellations

If your unit, program or service uses interpreters frequently, please contact us to explore strategies to reduce your short-notice cancellations. We can also provide cancellation statistics and general interpreter usage data for your area.

Contact jessie.matherlingley@phsa.ca for further information.


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