Video interpretation

Following a pilot testing period in 2008, Odense University Hospital has implemented Video interpretation as a daily service for all clinical departments.

Video interpretation is used in consultations with patients who do not speak Danish well enough to understand what the medical professionals tell them. Traditionally, interpreters would come to the hospital at the same time as the patient and interpret the consultation simultaneously. In a Video interpretation the interpreter is not in the hospital but in an office with video conference equipment allowing them to hear and see and also be both heard and seen. Using the video equipment the interpreter simultaneously translates what is being said by patient and clinician.

The implementation of video interpretation was carried out as part of a national project from 2009 to 2011 and within just one year of daily function the number of video interpretations had surpassed the number of traditional interpretations. Today the video interpretations constitute 88% of all interpretations at the hospital.

Both patients and clinicians are very happy with the solution and feel that it provides more efficient interpretation sessions and gives a better flow in the clinical work. The economic advantages are also becoming evident, mainly because the consultations and use of interpreters are more efficient and shorter than before but also because the volume is now great enough to create beneficial contracts with the interpretation agency. Another advantage is that we have seen a reduction in the use of family members as interpreters as the video interpreter can be accessed quickly if it is necessary because the patient doesn’t understand as much as expected. Using professional interpreters also reduces the risk of the patient and interpreter being acquaintances from the local community which could potentially create problems with confidentiality and embarrassment.

Other advantages from the project is that the interpreters are able to cover more consultations as they have a steady office space to work from, thus allowing them to become specialized in medical interpretation and offer interpretation to more departments during the day. In addition it is now possible to offer acute interpretations with shorter notice than before, as the interpreter does not need to travel to the hospital and find the consultation room.

The additional advantage is that the booking process has become electronic and it is now easier for the hospital to monitor and register the use of interpreters, and for the departments to review and moderate their booking specifications.

On a societal level the project has supported the creation of a local business as the Interpretation Agency can now offer better and more steady work to their interpreters as they are secured a three-year contract with the Region of Southern Denmark based on the video interpretation services. The service also saves interpreters from many hours on the road thus reducing the CO2 emissions created by the hospitals of the region – this effect is amplified by the fact that the equipment used for video interpretation can also be used for video conferencing between hospital staff in the region and with people outside the region, which reduces the travel activity of staff and increases productivity.

Video interpretation is available in almost all languages and it is also possible to have sign language interpretation carried out via video conference.


Contact person

Eva Lund
Project Manager

Phone: +45 6088 1811

Permanent link to this article: