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Cost-Saving Benefits of Translation Services Within Healthcare

4 minute read | 20/12/2022

Cost-Saving Benefits of Translation Services Within Healthcare

Not Everyone in the UK Speaks English, What Happens When They Go to Hospital?

A significant proportion of the UK population does not speak English as their first language. By communicating with patients in their mother language, you can build trust and increase overall satisfaction, safety and efficiency. 

"The total NHS spending on translation and interpreting services for Trusts and Health Boards in the UK was £65,962,418 in 2019/2020."

source: https://bit.ly/3U79A3Q

There are many medical interpretation and translation services available on the market. This is a fantastic alternative to onsite interpreters, which may not be the most affordable or feasible option. Certain telephone services and apps help facilitate those people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).


Addressing Limited English Proficiency (LEP) in Healthcare

Translation services don't just apply to those who don't speak the English language. This where the term, 'Limited English Proficiency' (LEP) comes in. A patient with LEP is one whose primary language is not English, and whose ability to read, write, speak, or understand English is limited (i.e., a non-fluent patient or a deaf/blind patient). With no English skills, or a lack of ability to communicate, a patient relies on interpretation or translation. 

Accessibility is also important. A deaf person may know sign language, but if none of the staff on their ward knows that language, then there is a communication barrier. While it's potentially less of an obstacle because those who are deaf can lip read, for example, it still creates a language barrier because communication is two ways. Therefore, it creates a similar effect for someone who doesn't speak English at all. 

While it’s merely impossible to accommodate all of the languages in the world, technology is making it much easier for language companies by gradually expanding their linguistic division. 

Usually, a telephonic service is available that enables healthcare professionals and patients to engage in live audio conversations with a skilled interpreter in the preferred language. This facilitates a clear understanding of conversation, whether it’s regarding procedural consent, diagnosis and the development of treatment plans. The service also operates 24 hours a day, so you can rely on instant access to interpreters, even in emergencies. However, this is not suitable in all cases. For those who are hard of hearing such as the elderly, this process can be rather painful over the phone.

This is why Hospitals have onsite interpreters. However, they are not cheap. The average onsite interpreter, depending on language, usually costs between £35 and £60 per hour. If they have to translate a recording, that can take between 5 and 10 hours to transcribe. Furthermore, the wait time for an interpreter can be upwards of 25 minutes.


How Technology Can Save Costs with Translation

Current translation services are just becoming too expensive. In the current climate of budget cuts and a lack of resources in the NHS, we need to approach this from a different angle. The solution is to never simply cut an existing service to save money, but adapt and tweak the system to create that same level of accessibility to a more affordable cost. Once again, we look towards technology for the solution. 

Translation apps, Google translate, image to text, they're all out there. This innovative technology has the potential to not only cut costs for the NHS by eliminating the need to hire translators, but also streamline communication processes. Therefore, saving staff valuable time while minimising errors that could arise from non-professional interpreters like family members or healthcare assistants. Accurate and swift communication is paramount to saving the lives of patients.

Translation services are essential, especially in cities like London where the population is much more diverse. The NHS would be wise to implement translation technology to improve patient care, communication and treatment outcomes.

By switching to a digital translation tool, the average Trust could save up to £1,064,459 per year. This equates to the following:

  • Total cost savings bedside consultations per annum – LEP = £74,579
  • Total cost saving for LEP patients, per annum per average Trust = £525,600
  • Total cost saving per LEP re-admission per annum, based on average stay = £464,280

Want to know how we calculated these cost savings? Check out our ROI Calculator Explained, where there will be proof behind the stats for all the cost savings your Trust could make by investing in SPARK Fusion.

Download the Handout to take away to your colleagues. 



Make Translation Cost Saving a Reality

It's all well and good stating how much money the NHS could save if they enacted translation technology, but how can they get this technology into hospitals? The main issue is providing a platform where patients and staff can access these translation tools. SPARK TSL has the solution. 

It's simple really, just put an iPad next to patients beds. This might sound rather futuristic, but this managed tablet solution has been successfully rolled out to 30% of hospitals in the Netherlands. This impressive feat was achieved by Sentean, a Dutch company that SPARK TSL acquired in 2024. With help from Sentean, we will implement the same solution in the UK. 

Learn for yourself the power of SPARK Fusion and make cost saving on translation services, (amongst others) a reality. 

Discover the Benefits of SPARK Fusion


75% of patients want digital healthcare services

So let’s work together to give it to them, all while optimising NHS processes.

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