Asian Family Services (AFS), a subsidiary of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, is trialling a digitally enabled interpreter service. The initiative has received funding from the Ministry of Health’s Digital Enablement Programme, which supports innovation in digital health care. The Ministry’s programme focuses on co-investing in projects that improve access or participation for people who do not access health services and need to. It’s about improving equity.
AFS works with their digital solution partner (Prigo Limited) to trial this newly created digital-enabled web app solution for providers to access interpreters through a seamless online booking system. The Digi Language Support (DLS) booking system takes an “Uber eats” approach.
AFS are currently promoting the DLS pilot project to stakeholders like general practices or non-governmental organisations, servicing high Asian populations but cannot support them with their language and therefore need interpreters. The pilot is for Auckland-based primary and community-based services.
AFS aims to recruit about 20 service provider agencies who need interpreter services and have since August recruited over 100 Asian language interpreters who can provide those services. Both groups will access the same platform. The system will match the interpreters’ languages and availability with the participant agencies online booking information.
The services allow the participating agencies to use a variety of video platforms, such as Zoom or Teams. The pilot will focus on telehealth interpreting services, such as telephone interpreting, video interpreting and telephone assignments.
The pilot will run for about 12 months, during which time the digital language support services will be free to agencies participating in the pilot. The aim is to fund 1400 interpreter jobs during that time. After that, agencies using the service will need to pay.