Knowledge base on interpreting

The FOPH produces and publishes supplementary material on interpreting in the health system. Research findings, literature reviews, legal opinions and recommendations should help to ensure the service is structured and used in the best way possible.

Financing intercultural interpreting

The more the use of intercultural interpreters (either on site or by telephone) becomes established, the more difficult it becomes for healthcare providers to bear those costs themselves. The cantons regulate the financing of intercultural interpreting for medical treatment in different ways. Some have made provision for payments for this as part of service level agreements with university or cantonal hospitals.

The Recommendations on performance auditing: identification of efficient hospitals under Art. 49 para. 1 Health Insurance Act, published (in German and French) by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Directors of Public Health in March 2018, also mention the financing of intercultural interpreting (page 9). The Conference recommends that translation and interpreting services that are necessary for proper treatment to be carried out should be regarded as compulsory health insurance services in the in-patient sector in hospitals, and thus their cost should be included in the calculation of the patient flat-rate tariff (see latest fact sheet for further information).

Latest fact sheet and further studies on intercultural interpreting can be found in the Infobox below.

Further information and documents on interpreting are available in German or French:

Wissensgrundlagen zum Dolmetschen
Connaissances sur l'interprétariat

Last modification 08.02.2021

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Health Strategies Division
Health Equity Section
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Berne
Switzerland
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https://www.bag.admin.ch/content/bag/en/home/strategie-und-politik/nationale-gesundheitsstrategien/gesundheitliche-chancengleichheit/interkulturelles-dolmetschen/Wissensgrundlagen-interkulturelles-Dolmetschen.html