Care in Any Language

A Video-based Interpretation System Helps Patients and Families Communicate

MARTTI video system

The MARTTI video system helps RWJUH Hamilton providers communicate with a patient and family using a live interpreter.

A new technology has been implemented across RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) that breaks down language barriers, eases communication between patients, families and providers, and furthers the health system’s mission to overcome health disparities.

Known as MARTTI* (My Accessible Real-Time Trusted Interpreter), the technology was implemented at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton in October 2021. It provides 24/7 access to medical interpreters in more than 250 languages. MARTTI devices resemble IV carts with 12-inch tablets attached and are easily wheeled anywhere they are needed—from the registration desk or triage area to the bedside or physical therapy session.

At any point of care, limited English proficient (LEP) patients and families can feel confident they will understand key information about a condition, a treatment or ongoing medical needs, and have the ability to speak up and accurately communicate.

“The MARTTI system helps create a comfort zone for the patient and family, and ultimately improves the patient experience,” says Jill Anderson, MBA, Vice President, Patient Experience at RWJBH.

“We want to make sure LEP community members feel connected with our staff and feel the compassion we bring to patient care,” Anderson continues. “Improving communication has numerous benefits for our limited English-proficient patients and families, including increased patient safety.”

A Growing Need

Trends indicate increased need for interpretation services across RWJBH. About one-third of New Jersey residents home. Nearly 4 million interpretation minutes—a measure of demand for interpretation services—were used across the RWJBH system in 2021. In 2022 the system exceeded 4 million minutes and by the end of 2023, over 1,000 MARTTI’s were deployed system wide. About 100 languages have been interpreted, with Spanish the most frequent.

MARTTI can help LEP patients and families as soon as they enter RWJBH inpatient and outpatient facilities. The patient or a family member can point out their country of origin on the MARTTI screen and choose from a list of languages. An on-screen medical interpreter will then converse with them in the patient’s native language.

Requests for MARTTI carts at RWJBH have exceeded expectations. Initial estimates were for between 200 and 250 devices, but by the end of January 2022, more than twice that many had rolled out.

Patient response has been enthusiastic. “Patients love it, and the staff has raved about it from both a clinical and safety perspective,” Anderson says.

Seth Rosenbaum, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at RWJUH Hamilton, and Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, says many of his patients require translation services.

“Having MARTTI available for use is a tremendous asset to both our patients and staff,” Dr. Rosenbaum says. “It allows our staff to effectively communicate to our patients in their primary language, making them feel more comfortable during some of their most difficult times. MARTTI also helps drive the high-quality care that we provide on a daily basis to everyone here at RWJUH Hamilton.”

*MARTTI, or better known by the corporate name, Martti by UpHealth Inc.

More about interpreter services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton.