MARTI Interpreter Saves Lives. But, Where In The World Is MARTI?

I was recently introduced to the next step in hospital interpreter services.  It's called MARTI and it stands for My Accessible Real Time Trusted Interpreter.  It's not the cheapest translation service, but it may be the best way to communicate with patients who don't speak my English. 

MARTI is an internet connected touch screen computer monitor attached to an upright mobile platform a cart that can be moved to any patient room in the hospital.  How easy is it to access your mobile translator?  Simply push the start button on the flat screen monitor and a live video feed of a MARTI operator will get you the just about any  foreign language translator you need. On many occasions, the patient and doctor or nurse  can see the interpreter live on screen as well.

I'm impressed with the MARTI folks.  They're good.  In fact, I had one physician tell me once that their interpreter was a physician in Iraq until they had to escape the country because physicians were getting kidnapped.  It's always nice to have a physician on the other end of the MARTI line helping to interpret.  I've also heard that my local government was upset with my hospital's use of the MARTI because their spanish speaking interpretors were not getting called.  I heard these government employees were saying we "owed it to them to give them the job".  Nobody owes anyone a job.  If MARTI can do the job quicker, faster and cheaper, MARTI gets paid and these free lance interpreters are free to  apply for a job with MARTI if they'd like to earn a living.

This mobile translation system is amazing.  They seem to be able to find any translator for any dialect of any language from any country anywhere.  They've even got folks that know vent speak and trachonese.   I don't know how they do it.  Maybe the MARTI folks make big money by playing the global labor arbitrage market.  Perhaps they used the Google method and  scoured the world looking for folks who speak native languages and then provided them with satellite bat phones to be called  up at any hour of the day or night to provide MARTI  interpreter services.  Perhaps they pay these MARTI translators  10 cents a phone call and turn around and charge the hospital by the minute. 

The concept is great.  But, the worst part about the MARTI system is trying to find her him it.   That dilemma always leads to the actionable path of least resistance, which is to choose default documentation of "ROS unobtainable at this time due to speech and words that don't make sense".  That meets all the criteria necessary to meet the HPI and ROS documentation requirements for a high level hospital admission.

Nobody ever seems to know where MARTI is.  The way I see it, MARTI is taking advantage of hospitals everywhere by clocking in early, taking long lunch breaks and snoozing on the job. It seems like nobody is managing MARTI.  How are we supposed to know MARTI isn't just making long distance phone calls all over the world and claiming it was a part of their routine business?

What we need now is a MARTiPAD App where I, the  hospitalist, can get any language interpreter while rounding with my iPad, instead of spending all my time trying to hunt down MARTI.  Heck, I bet MARTI is probably  Facebooking in the supply closet.  While MARTI has its benefits, hospitals have to be aware of the dangers of an out of control MARTI as well.  And Mrs Happy and I know all about the dangers of an out of control Marty.

UPDATE 2013:

I just found out ObamaCare now requires my hospital to provide paid health insurance for our MARTI translating computer. As a result, MARTI was demoted to a 30 hour/week work schedule.

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