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American Hospital Association Chooses Preferred Language Services Vendor
Posted by Nataly Kelly on March 10, 2009  in the following blogs: Interpreting
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Last week, the largest association for hospitals in the United States announced CyraCom as its preferred language services provider (LSP). Language services are required by nearly all of the AHA's 37,000 members, including 5,000 hospitals. What does this mean for the thousands of translation companies competing for that business?

We wrote previously about the fact that over-the-phone interpretation providers were expanding their translation offerings in the health care space (see “Telephone Interpreting Companies Expand Health Care Translation Offerings,” Nov08). For CyraCom, the push beyond spoken language services appears to have paid off.

Hospital language services budgets vary widely, but our prior research has identified that, on average, they spend US$56 for every bed that corresponds to a limited English proficient patient. For some, this results in language-related spending that exceeds US$1 million, but most spend far less (see "The Language Access Ratio," Sep08). Most of these expenditures are for interpreting, not translation. Hospitals fall low on the priority list of most LSPs, due to the fact that smaller accounts are less desirable (see “How to Buy Translation,” Sep07).

So, of the many suppliers that could have applied for the AHA endorsement, very few would have the motivation to actually participate. More importantly, telephone interpreting services comprise the majority of hospitals’ need for outsourced language services. Yet, there are only a handful of LSPs that offer these services in addition to translation and localization services (see “Top 15 Telephone Interpreting Companies,” Jul08).

The endorsement is good news for CyraCom, which has carved out a niche in catering to hospitals. The telephone interpreting company is doing well and recently announced the addition of 450 full-time interpreter employees over the coming year, in the midst of an economic downturn. The endorsement will serve the company well by putting its name front and center, especially for hospitals and health care organizations that are new users of telephone interpreting. However, the greatest value for CyraCom is the possibility of early entrenchment across a large base of relatively small-scale users.

While rivals may frown at the announcement, most hospital clients will not switch solely based on an AHA stamp of approval, so long as they are happy with their existing service. The headache of switching vendors is often not worth the trouble.


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