Don’t Implement a VRI Solution without Considering Your Infrastructure

Male IT manager working at a computer in a room at a hospital.

Implementing a VRI solution in a healthcare system can be hectic. You’re fielding questions from end users and trying to coordinate training schedules, all while managing expectations from key stakeholders.

It’s enough, even under the best of circumstances, to spike your cortisol levels.

But before you can even put your implementation strategy into action, there is a lot of careful consideration that must happen in the early stages of planning in order to avoid a headache later on. You probably know this already, of course. VRI adoption doesn’t happen overnight, and requires organizational cooperation, workflow integration, and certain technological infrastructure.

It’s this last piece, however — your healthcare system’s IT infrastructure — that is an especially critical aspect of planning a VRI implementation that often gets overlooked.

What is IT infrastructure and why do I need to care?

Simply put, IT infrastructure refers to the components that keep the technology in an organization up and running smoothly.

Healthcare organizations generally have complex IT infrastructures in place that include some combination of servers, hardware, networking gear, and supporting software.

Why is IT infrastructure so critical for VRI?

Because not having the right infrastructure established before you launch a VRI solution could damage the integrity of your entire program. Your users will be frustrated when they can’t use the platform because they don’t have enough bandwidth, you will be frustrated when no one uses VRI as a result, and your limited English proficient patients will be frustrated when they can’t communicate with their care team quickly.

You don’t need to know the gory technical details, but you do need to make sure the right people talk to each other. Being proactive and inviting your IT department into the conversation with your language services provider (or asking the right questions while vetting providers) from the start will help set your program up for success.

Below are some things to consider about your IT infrastructure.

Related: What the Non-Techie Needs to Know about VRI

Review your hardware options

Ensuring you and your IT team are on the same page regarding hardware is an important first step in VRI selection and implementation thereafter. Some VRI solutions are device agnostic, while others require that you use a specific device. Some hospitals might want you to use existing equipment, while others choose to procure new devices altogether. Establishing which option works for you, the end users, and your IT department will require coordination early on.

Some things to keep in mind: Think about how your patients will be using the devices. It’s more than likely they will need to be mobile and flexible enough so patients can view the screen while they are lying down. Your IT department will need to know this information when helping you select devices.

Bandwidth, wireless coverage, and VRI

An effective video session with an interpreter entails a few conditions:

  • The provider and patient need to be able to connect to an interpreter
  • The video needs to be clear
  • The audio needs to be crisp and audible
  • The connection should not drop or lag

This is not an exhaustive list of all the requirements necessary to conduct a VRI session, but when one fails, blurry video, garbled voices, and dropped connections are some of the most common reasons why — and they just happen to be connected to bandwidth and wireless coverage.

Bandwidth

According to Verizon, bandwidth is “the volume of information that can be sent over a connection in a measured amount of time.”

The number of individuals you’ll have using VRI will affect the amount of bandwidth you’ll need. The more users, the more bandwidth. Video consumes a ton of it, so to ensure the hospital has sufficient coverage and providers and staff have smooth connections at peak usage times, let your IT department know how many individuals plan on using VRI concurrently and the anticipated volume of calls you’re expecting over time. 

Wireless coverage

Hospitals rely on sufficient wireless coverage to power the Wi-Fi-enabled technology found in all corners of a campus, video interpreting platforms included. This can be a difficult task. Providers, staff, visitors, and patients all share one thing in common — the expectation of reliable, continuous coverage no matter where they are.

Depending how long ago wireless access points were placed, the different nooks and crannies of a hospital could have been overlooked, or may have not existed when the last site survey was completed, so it’s a good idea to let IT know where VRI will be used the most. This way they can look at all the physical barriers, conflicting signals, and other devices connected to the network in that area to ensure there is enough coverage for video interpreting.

In an effort to prioritize wireless bandwidth, some hospitals also opt to place critical devices (including those delivering interpreting services) on designated, protected Wi-Fi networks that are separate from the free Wi-Fi access available to visitors.

Who you gonna call?

Technology has led to significant advancements in medicine, but it isn’t foolproof. It breaks on occasion, or at the very least acts mysteriously enough to warrant an investigation beyond your skillset.

That’s where having an outlined support model comes in handy. It’s best to work out who you should call as part of your implementation plan so end users of VRI aren’t scrambling at the last minute searching for a contact number.

We recommend having one point person, usually someone in your internal IT department, as the first point of contact for troubleshooting. They can then triage the problem as needed. It’s also important to make sure your language service provider is on board and has a support process in place as well.

You can rely on CLI

At CLI, we’ve supported many VRI implementations across all sizes of healthcare systems. We can help you plan your implementation strategy — from training and customized materials, to IT assistance and support — to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Interested in more content on language access? Sign up for our newsletter today!

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