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KP LanguageConnect Connects

March 2022: Article by Tat Fong, Northern California Business Information Office and Nirupama Deshpande, Practice Leader, Language Access, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.

Language access and care quality

At Kaiser Permanente we strive to provide high-quality care and service for all of our patients. We know that patients experience fewer health complications when caregivers or interpreters speak with them in the language they understand best.

Research shows that people with limited English proficiency who do not have interpreter services during hospital admission or discharge are more likely to be readmitted within 30 days. There are many patients who speak English well enough to have a conversation but when they are in a medical setting, in pain, or experiencing a health emergency, they may need interpreter services to fully understand what is happening and available options. In addition to experiencing better health outcomes, patients with limited English proficiency who receive qualified interpreter services are also much more satisfied with their care, as reflected in our patient surveys.

Timely language interpretation is critical to our care teams and patients, especially for the 24/7 care delivery environments of emergency departments and hospital rooms which serve our diverse populations. Many members want their relatives to interpret detailed procedures or instructions during the care process for them. KP encourages using qualified interpreters as part of the care team to allow patients to rely on family and friends for emotional support.

Kaiser Permanente’s develops a solution

KP LanguageConnect (KPLC) Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) service is providing qualified language interpretation to NCAL inpatient departments, emergency department, continuum of care, and pharmacies, using qualified remote interpreters for spoken languages and American Sign Language (ASL).

After the successful pilot in late 2013 in Fresno, San Jose, and Modesto medical centers, KP LanguageConnect (KPLC) became NCAL KFH/HP’s approved Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) service in early 2014, augmenting Over the Phone Interpretation (OPI) and in-person interpretation services for NCAL.

KP LanguageConnect (KP Trademark)

KPLC was fully deployed across the NCAL Emergency Department and Inpatient Departments in 2015. Within seconds, using an iPad or a Workstation on Wheels, providers can communicate with members, through a remote interpreter, in one of 200 language including American Sign Language. That same year the US Patent and Trademark office granted KP the “KP LanguageConnect” trademark, which was designed by KP’s Brand team for NCAL to use and manage VRI language services.

KP LanguageConnect logo

Driving new technology beyond just this app

In 2013, KP LanguageConnect initiated the “shared-iPad” capability in partnership with IT Ops Mobile Device Management team. The “shared-iPad” capability has since been adopted by various use cases across KP. In 2014, the MCoE certified KPLC – the first vendor supplied mobile app certified, paving the way for future mobile app certifications created by vendors. Mobile app version control was also introduced in partnership with the MCoE and the language services supplier. In 2017, KPLC partnered with IT Ops Mobile Device Management team and Language Services VRI supplier to introduce zero-touch remote upgrade for the mobile app on shared iPad. KPLC mobile app upgrade has since been automated, without the need of Business or IT team to work on the shared-iPads, similar to iPhones.

Same service, different names

The KP LanguageConnect name and trademark allows KP to change suppliers without disrupting our VRI language service and retraining users. KP contracted language service supplier is required to incorporate KPLC branding onto its Windows app and iOS app since the start of KPLC in 2013.

In 2016, an enterprise Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) language service supplier was selected through a VRI request for proposal process. Each market/region/team has their choice in naming the iOS app in KP App Store to manage their respective versions and needs. All such iOS mobile apps are linked to Apple’s VPP/Custom App Store (B2B store) where the supplier publishes them.

The VRI service is currently available across multiple KP markets with different service names based on individual market preferences. The service is accessible by using the Windows and iOS mobile app available in KP App Store.

The service has been providing just-in-time qualified, medical interpretation services via video for our front-line staff to effectively communicate with members and patients at the point of care. The service has also been expanded to video visit and telehealth settings where our members receive care. This VRI service has not only improved care quality and care experience but has also reduced language services costs by augmenting in-person interpretation when it’s appropriate and applicable.

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