STRATUS VIDEO: Telehealth Interpretation Services to Non-English Speaking Patients and Healthcare Providers [Interview][Transcript]

David_Fetterolf_Stratus_VideoGuest: David Fetterolf
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: David Fetterolf has 22 years of experience working for healthcare information technology and service companies. He currently serves as the president and CEO of Stratus Video, a leading provider of medical interpretation solutions. David earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University and a Masters of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Segment overview: In this segment, David Fetterolf talks about how Stratus Video is addressing a major need for hospitals across the nation by providing interpreter services to non-English-speaking patients and doctors.

Health Professional Radio – STRATUS VIDEO: Telehealth Interpretation Services

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program today. I’m your host Neal Howard here on Health Professional Radio, thank you so much for joining us. Our guest in studio is David Fetterolf, he’s the President of Stratus Video and they’re addressing a need for hospitals across this nation to provide interpreter services for non-English speaking patients and doctors. Welcome to Health Professional Radio to this Health Supplier Segment David Fetterolf.

David Fetterolf: Thank you very much Neal.

N: Okay. Now Stratus Video, when did you become the President or is this a company that you founded?

D: No. This is a company that I was brought in to run and I came to Stratus about 4 years ago, November 2012 and at that point in time it was a very, very small company, low revenue and less than 10 employees so it was really a start-up when I joined at the end of 2012.

N: Now you’ve created quite a bit of revenue growth over those last 4 years, is there one endeavor in particular that seems to have catapulted you into this success?

D: I would share you now, what we did is we came out with a video remote interpreting product that was very different from every other product on the market and you have to understand a little bit about the market to understand, how, and why we grew so quickly show. So the interpreting market in the U.S. in healthcare, is about 2 Billion dollar market segment. And traditionally, interpreting in hospitals, in the medical practices … either with an … interpreter, someone that stood next to the physician and the patient and interpreted the production. Or you’ve got an over-the-phone, where the patient with all the headset, the physician with all the headset, would call an interpreter on the phone. Over-the-phone interpreting, you can get interpreters very quickly within 30 seconds or 60 seconds and it’s pretty inexpensive. An in-person interpreter it’s really expensive but is a much better interpreting session. So what we did is we came out with an application that will run on an iPad, in an android device, or any PC or Mac and it’s a physician with one touch of a button they could touch Arabic, and within 30 seconds we could bring an Arabic certified healthcare live interpreter under the screen live and that interpreter be looking at the patient and interpreting for the doctor. And what it did in the market, that type of solution is almost as good as an in-person interpreting session but at the same cost structure, speed of the answer, as in over-the-phone interpreting session. So we were able to come into the market with a product that really nobody else had and teach them, … and a lot of hard work, we’ve been able to capture and convert a lot at the market from both in-person-interpreting and over-the-phone interpreting over to video and we are currently the market leader in video interpreting and that’s what initially catapulted our growth with that unique product offering. And since then, in this past year, we acquired an over-the-phone interpreting company so now we provide over-the-phone services as well that we can sell back in that video client base and we also came out with a product for in-person interpreting, it’s an Uber-like application where providers that can request an in-person-interpreter and just like Uber the car company it can get interpreters on their iPad and they can see they moving on the maps toward the hospital or the practice so now we’re able to grow in all market segments that we captured in our dominating video market segment so that’s going to enable us to continue this growth trajectory.

N: As far as your interpreting staff, are you getting interpreters from the United States or this is a worldwide network?

D: Yeah, it’s a combination. So all of our world languages, all of our interpreters with the exception of Spanish are all located in the United States, … interpreters and they’re throughout the entire country. At Stratus, we have a lot of interpreters also in the United States in Spanish, but we also have a couple of hundred interpreters in Costa Rica that do Spanish to English interpreting. All the interpreters are medically qualified and/or certified to do healthcare interpreting.

N: Now is your platform supported, is it internet-based? You developed this app, how seamless is the transmission? Are we talking about lag times and things that we encounter and we determine them to be problematic when we’re doing tele-health via the internet?

D: Yeah, that’s a great question. So this platform is all web-based, it runs over the internet, the video is very very crisp. It was originally developed to serve the deaf and hard of hearing community for sign language … producing very, very good video. That was the roots of the company and then we took that product and moved into language interpreting. And that’s one of the reasons, really to this day people have not been able to copy us and come out with a product as good as ours because it’s a very difficult proposition to run a video session over the WiFi in the hospital out into the internet and then automatically switches to the right interpreter. And you mentioned tele-health because that is, we believe that is going to be a huge growth opportunity for us in this coming year. Basically using the exact same technology that we have to deliver video interpreters for them to use that technology basically to connect physicians on consults and manage tele-health communications. All via video, all of the same networks that we’ve found and made work in the video interpreting side so that’s a very large opportunity for us as we move forward.

N: Now David, talk a bit about the importance or the lack of importance about your interpreters being well versed or versed it all in medical terminology. Or is this simply a matter of being able to repeat what the English speaking physician is saying to the non-English speaking patient?

D: No. It’s incredibly important to be well versed in medical terminology and also to be trained as an interpreter. Just being bilingual does not make you an interpreter. Interpreting is absolutely a skill that you need to be trained on and there are certifications in the United States for languages where you can get certified in medical interpreting and then there’s a lot of languages, I think there either 9 certifications in 8-9 languages and then now, we have our classrooms where we will qualify people if there’s no national certification available. But it is absolutely critical when we really think about the end product that we offer. The product is actually interpreting, it’s not the technology. The technology is what delivers the product and the technology is what sets us apart and enables us to grow. But when all is said and done, the interpreting is actually the product so you need very highly skilled interpreters and that’s really what makes Stratus great and especially more than networking, our employees that are interpreting for us.

N: Now with such a high importance laid upon training, how much of that responsibility falls on Stratus Video employees or contractors? And how much falls on you as the provider?

D: We put together training sessions for our interpreters so when we go recruit interpreters, we try to recruit interpreters that are already qualified and have certifications. And even if they do, we still them into a test to make sure that they’re good and then we have online courses that they take that we have developed and put together called Stratus University so that we’re able to train and teach interpreters on both how to interpret as well as the specific medical terminology. So we been take responsibility for it and we do a lot of work in that area.

N: Now when it comes to training, how much training does the patient have in understanding this possibly, absolutely new to them technology? I know you’re training the physicians in how it works as well as your interpreters, but what about the patient who may be absolutely new to this type of technology?

D: It’s surely interesting because the patients are used to over-the-phone interpreting and some of them may be used to in-person interpreting. And the physicians are … so the first time they see video interpreting, they’re usually shocked and surprised and very happy because it is a world of difference when you compare it to an over-the-phone interpreting session. And so it’s a very very positive experience, there’s really no training that is needed either the physician or the patient with our application, you literally touch one button whichever language you want. And then the session begins and then the interpreter comes up and then the interpreter starts the session out with explaining who they are, what they’re going to do, and that’s it and the session begins. Alright, but it’s usually a very very positive experience, mainly because the patient is used to an over-the-phone interpreting session which is much more difficult when you’re not seeing the patient.

N: Now in wrapping up David, where can our listeners go and get much more information about Stratus Video and this brand new with method of interpreting?

D: They can go to

N: Great, thanks. It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today David.

D: Thank you very much Neal, it’s a pleasure.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, this Health Supplier Segment of the show. I’m your host Neal Howard, in studio with David Fetterolf, President of Stratus Video, addressing a major need for hospitals by providing interpreter services to non-English speaking patients and doctors. Transcripts of this program are available at and also at, and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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