Interpreting in Healthcare: The Importance of Effective Communication for Patient Care

By: Cheryl

By: Klaidi Shehi


Canada is a world leader in cultural diversity, with one of the highest immigration numbers of any G7 country. Over 4.6 million Canadians speak a language other than English or French as their primary language. These individuals represent 12.7% of the Canadian population, a proportion that has been increasing over the past decades. For reference, the proportion was 7.7% in the early 90s, illustrating Canada’s commitment to multiculturalism and diversity. However, this abundance of primary languages spoken other than English and French gives rise to communication challenges. These communication difficulties are seen especially in the healthcare industry, where language comprehension can impair a patient’s safety, capacity for receiving care, and ability to detect problems.

Language services play a crucial role in bridging this communication gap. That is why all healthcare service providers, such as hospitals, clinics, medical centers, and emergency centers, need access to a certified interpreter ready to help aid in communicating with patients. Below we are going to explore the role interpreters play in healthcare across all patient touchpoints, some significant ways interpreters aid in the healthcare industry and how you can find an interpreter to ensure effective communication for optimal patient care! 

Importance of Accurate Communication Across All Patient Touchpoints

Clear and accurate communication between healthcare providers and patients is crucial in delivering appropriate medical care across several touchpoints a patient may have. Miscommunications can lead to errors in diagnosis, medication prescriptions or administration, and non-optimal treatment plans. A miscommunication at an initial touchpoint such as in an emergency room may also affect other touchpoints down the line such as discharge information, picking up prescriptions, or could delay the diagnosis of an issue further. These errors may result in repeated visits, longer hospital stays, and wrong medications being prescribed, leading to increased expenses for both patients and healthcare providers. In some cases, it can also lead to misdiagnoses which can result in severe consequences. This is where the vital role of medical interpreters comes into play. They ensure that all parties effectively convey and understand medical information, thereby reducing the risk of medical errors.

Communication Across All Patient TouchpointsCultural Sensitivity and Empathy

An interpreter’s job is not only to convey information across languages but also to facilitate cultural understanding. An interpreter can help bridge cultural differences a patient may have concerning religion, beliefs, practices, or preferences. For example, a patient coming into a hospital may require a female doctor due to religious reasons but cannot communicate that due to the language barrier. An interpreter can help them through their treatment across several touchpoints to ask for female healthcare professionals when necessary or available. Interpreters play a crucial role in building trust, empathy and rapport between patients and healthcare providers. This is essential for effective patient care, especially when dealing with severe trauma-related needs and the information needs to be conveyed quickly and accurately.

Overcoming Language and Terminology Challenges

Another communication hurdle that patients may face is the complexity of healthcare terminology which can even be challenging for patients that speak the same foreign language as the healthcare provider. When diagnosing a patient, explaining which medications to take and the side effects, or briefing them for surgery, it’s essential that the words and the message that the healthcare professional is trying to convey are correctly communicated. This ensures that the patients fully understand the risks, benefits and alternatives of medical procedures and practices. Healthcare-specialized interpreters possess a deep understanding of medical terminology in multiple languages, allowing them to accurately interpret medical jargon and technical terms that the average multi-lingual individual will have trouble communicating. Their expertise ensures that patients fully comprehend their medical conditions, treatment options and instructions for post-care.

Finding an Interpreter

Enlisting the help of a professionally trained interpreter who has experience working in medical settings and can understand the complexities of medical terminology can be daunting. It’s especially difficult when the patient speaks a less-spoken language, leading to a scarce supply of medical interpreters. Some major hospitals in large cities may offer access to a bilingual pool of volunteers or staff who can help healthcare professionals communicate with patients with language barriers. However, hospital staff may not always be available or have the flexibility to be able to conduct an entire medical history interview and are likely not trained as interpreters.

That is why it’s important for medical centers, healthcare professionals, and social service providers to enlist the help of a language solutions provider that excels in offering comprehensive medical interpretation services in multiple languages.

MCIS Medical Interpretation Services

With a deep understanding of the critical role effective communication plays in the healthcare industry, MCIS offers specialized and certified medical interpreters and translators in a variety of languages. These interpreters possess specialized knowledge of medical terminology, cultural sensitivity training and professional services training. This allows them to accurately assist in the communication between medical providers and limited-English-proficient patients. MCIS offers interpretation services that meet the needs and limitations of patients and clinics. We provide flexibility and immediate access to language support, offering services in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing.

We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and confidentiality for our clients. This has earned us the trust of several healthcare and social services providers, by providing optimal patient care and seamless communication. We offer all our interpreters advanced medical Interpreter training that develops our trainee’s medical terminology and cultural sensitivity skills and knowledge. These programs allow our interpreters to practice this terminology in context, learn about patient needs and sensitivities and understand the Canadian Healthcare system.

We pride ourselves on being an industry leader in providing language services and training for the medical industry. MCIS wants to help you better communicate with your patients and provide you with some of the industry’s best interpreters and language service providers, helping you focus on providing the best medical care.

To find a medical interpreter, start by visiting our page here or visit us at You can also start by filling out a request for interpreter form or by getting in touch with a member of our team here through our Contact Us Page.

Whatever medical services your patients need, MCIS is here to foster proper communication and find you the correct language solutions and services to solve your needs. Get in contact with us today so that you can keep focusing on providing the best medical services to your patients while we bridge the communication gap for you and your patients.