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A Sign of the Times for Hearing Impaired Patients



March 23.2015

Newswise — Harris Health System is now using sign language video technology to better communicate with its hearing-impaired and hard-of-hearing patients. Connecting patients with physicians and nurses in a timely and convenient manner is one of the driving forces behind the new portable interpretation service.

New iPad®-equipped wheeled carts (similar to rolling blood-pressure stands) act as in-person translators of American Sign Language for patients and staff at a moment’s notice. The program has four such carts complete with speakers and audio enhancement capability at Harris Health’s Ben Taub, Quentin Mease and Lyndon B. Johnson hospitals.

“One of the greatest advantages of using this new technology in clinical settings is its on-demand availability,” says Graciela Zozaya, manager, Harris Health Interpretation Services. “This means less waiting time for patients and better time management efficiency for providers and staff.”

In the past, Harris Health used a service that provided in-person interpreters at a cost up to $105 an hour. The higher cost was assessed for calls requested urgently, during off-business hours or on weekends. All requests were charged a minimum of two hours.

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