KGH Interpretation Spanish-English Medical & Mental Health Interpretation

Reducing OPI/VRI Anxiety During COVID-19, Part 2: Call Flow Charts

Thanks for tuning in for our second week of my Self-Care Series about reducing OPI/VRI anxiety during COVID-19! As I hinted at the end of the last article, this tip has a lot to do with diagrams, specifically flowcharts.  You can be an excellent interpreter but get caught up in all the intricacies of different operating procedures with each interpreting agency, boggled down by technological problems, or simply be unable to effectively do your job due to poor call quality.  Managing all these difference elements can be tough, which is why I recommend…

Tip #2: Call Flow Charts

Each agency I work for has different policies, procedures, and scripts.  On top of it all, I have yet to work for an agency that doesn’t have their documentation on their preferences scattered across 10 different PDFs.  It can be daunting and anxiety-inducing if you’re working with more than one agency a day.  While you may not be able to control call quality and only have limited control over the flow of the encounter, you can certainly make things easier by staying on top of the intricacies of overlapping policies and procedures.

My solution?  Call flow charts.  Call flow charts give you a visual representation of how a call should go, including relevant scripts and scenarios.  This organizes you and puts you in control of the process, making you less likely to feel lost and scrambling for a solution.

Example Simple Call Flow Chart made in Microsoft Word with Smart Art graphics

Your flow chart can be as simple or as complex as you like. Here are some things I suggest implementing in you flow charts:

  • Clearly title the page for each agency.  You don’t want to accidentally start using a script or call flow from the wrong agency because it’s labeled incorrectly!
  • Put scripts in quotes.  This will help you differentiate between script snippets and an action you or the client may carry out on the call.  You wouldn’t want to accidentally start reading aloud, “See additional sheet for instructions on adding another caller.”
  • Color-coding actions versus speaking cues/scripts.  Avoid using red and try to stick to cool or neutral tones.  For more on what colors to use, I highly recommend reading about the psychology of color.
  • Split your flow charts up onto different pages.  An overwhelming or cluttered page can have the opposite effect and cause you to feel more overwhelmed.  Usually what I do is have a general call flow chart on the main page, and then at points in the main flow chart that are more complex processes, indicate that you should see an attached page.  Some common additional pages are mentioned in the section “Advanced Flow Charts.”
  • Laminate your sheet or put it in a sheet protector.  You’re going to touch this page.  A lot.

It may seem like a lot, but trust me, spending a little under an hour or so doing this per agency really helped me feel more in control of the situation.  I even had a little fun with it playing around with formatting and colors.  You may not even need to use this indefinitely as you become more familiar with the ins and outs of each agency, but it’s always a helpful reference material if you have to step away from an agency and come back later.

What Your Flow Chart Should Include

At minimum, your flow chart should include the basic scripts you’re required to adhere to when navigating OPI or VRI encounters. A great example is the flow chart pictured in the previous section, which includes:

  • English greeting for provider or client
  • Greeting in target language for patient or member
  • Post-session script in English
  • Post-session script in target language (if applicable)

Advanced Flow Charts

A super complex flow chart of adding an additional person to a call! Made in Zen Flow Chart, mentioned in recommendations below.

Let’s face it, doing OPI or VRI is rarely just about interpreting, but often about guiding the encounter and engaging in various customer-service-related interactions. Pictured above is a pretty comprehensive flow chart, outlining in as much detail as possible just how involved adding another person to a call can be. While this is a generic flow chart that doesn’t pertain to any particular agency, it is very much the same sort of flow chart I had to make for one of my agencies that is really serious about scripting. Every single action taken has a script!
While a generalized call flow chart is appropriate for laying out the overall idea of a call flow, these types of detailed call flow charts are better suited for potentially complex scripted interactions such as:

  • Adding an additional person to a call
  • Handling inaudible or barely audible calls
  • Managing irate patients or providers (yes, this happens!)
  • Call holding/waiting if your agency has a lot of instructions
  • Transferring to customer service
    Take note of whether your agency allows you to transfer a call to customer service with the LEP still on the line!

Some of these can be pretty tenuous situations, and it helps to have every step laid out in anticipation of it happening. Some of these flow charts can be lifesavers and help you stay professional in difficult situations!

Recommended Flow Chart Software

I’ve tried a LOT of flowchart software, both online and desktop versions. Unfortunately many flow chart options are incredibly complex with unnecessary features that only make what should be a relatively simple task into something convoluted and time-consuming. Normally I offer a wide range of options for suggestions, but I truly believe these are the two most intuitive, hassle-free methods of creating digital flow charts.

  • Microsoft Word
    Word’s Smart Art graphics are my go-to for simple flow charts.  There are a variety of layouts and formats available, and it doesn’t really require any manual adjustment.  Just go to “Insert > Smart Art” and choose your format.  You can further tweak its appearance by going to the “Design” and “Format” tabs.
  • Zen Flowchart
    There are a lot of bloated and unnecessarily complex flow chart websites and programs out there.  I like Zen Flowchart because it’s so simple, but if I need to make a complex flow chart, it makes it incredibly easy.  Whenever I’m limited by Word’s Smart Art tool, I turn to Zen Flowchart.  And it’s free!

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for a third article next week about another tip on anxiety reduction! My next article in this series will be focusing on anxiety-free methods for time tracking (an activity that can be anxiety-reducing in and of itself). Be sure to subscribe to my site’s articles or follow the KGH Interpretation Facebook page to stay informed of new updates!

Missed the other articles in the series? You can check them out here:

  1. Reducing OPI/VRI Anxiety During COVID-19, Part 1: Reference Materials
  2. Reducing OPI/VRI Anxiety During COVID-19, Part 2: Call Flow Charts
  3. Reducing OPI/VRI Anxiety During COVID-19, Part 3: Track Your Time
  4. Reducing OPI/VRI Anxiety During COVID-19, Part 4: Change Your Ringtone
  5. Reducing OPI/VRI Anxiety During COVID-19, Part 5: Set Your Space
  6. Reducing OPI/VRI Anxiety During COVID-19, Part 6: Relaxation Techniques

Did you see the teaser video I posted on my YouTube channel about the self-care series?  Be sure to check it out and subscribe!

[Cover photo by Max Andrey from Pexels]

About the author

Kelly (Grzech) Henriquez

Kelly is a Certified Medical/Healthcare Interpreter (CMI-Spanish, CHI-Spanish) and a medical interpreter trainer. She work as an independent contractor in the greater Richmond, Virginia area as a Spanish-English medical and mental health interpreter. Her passions include affirming interpretation for sexual and gender diverse populations, supporting interpreter mental health, and interpreting developmental-behavioral pediatrics.


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KGH Interpretation Spanish-English Medical & Mental Health Interpretation

Kelly (Grzech) Henriquez

I am a Certified Medical/Healthcare Interpreter (CMI-Spanish, CHI-Spanish) and a medical interpreter trainer. I work as an independent contractor in the greater Richmond, Virginia area as a Spanish-English medical interpreter. Click here to read more about me.

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