Frequently Asked Questions for agencies

The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) has produced some Frequently Asked Questions designed to answer some common questions for agencies and businesses about our services.

If you cannot find what you are looking for on our website please contact us and a TIS National staff member will help with your enquiry.

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Service charges, free services and invoicing-Expand content

I am a Medical Practitioner. Am I eligible for free interpreting services?

Medical practitioners (defined as general practitioners, nurse practitioners and approved medical specialists) are eligible for the Free Interpreting Service and access to the Medical Practitioner Priority Line when providing services that are:

  • Medicare-rebateable 
  • delivered in private practice, and
  • provided to non-English speakers who are eligible for Medicare. 

Nursing and practice support staff who are working with a private medical practitioner registered with TIS National can also access the service using the same client code.
Doctors who meet the above criteria can apply for access to the Free Interpreting Service and the Medical Practitioner Priority Line by completing the Register agency form.

Is my agency eligible for free interpreting services?

The Free Interpreting Service aims to provide equitable access to key services that are not government funded, for people with limited or no English language proficiency.

The following groups can access the Free Interpreting Service to provide services to anyone in Australia who are eligible for Medicare:

  • Medical practitioners: Private medical practitioners are defined as general practitioners, nurse practitioners and approved medical specialists. Private medical practitioners are eligible to access the Free Interpreting Service when delivering Medicare rebateable services in private practice. Practice support staff working with a private medical practitioner registered with TIS National can also access the service using the same client code.
    For a list of approved Medical Specialists see: Medical Board of Australia - Medical Specialties and Specialty Fields.
  • Pharmacies: to provide community pharmacy services and for programs delivered under the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement.
  • Non-government organisations: when providing casework and emergency services, where the organisation does not receive substantial government funding to provide these services. Note: Organisations receiving substantial government funding are not eligible for the Free Interpreting Service. Organisations delivering government funded services should discuss access to interpreters with their government funding body.    
  • Real estate agencies: to discuss any private residential property matter.
  • Local government authorities: to communicate about most local government services.
  • Trade unions: to assist workers to access support and advice.
  • Parliamentarians: for constituency purposes.

View more information about the Free Interpreting Service.

Use the eligibility calculator to find out if you are eligible for the Free Interpreting Service.

What is the Medical Practitioner and Pharmacy Priority Line?

The Medical Practitioner and Pharmacy Priority Line is a free phone interpreting service which helps medical practitioners and pharmacists quickly connect to an interpreter to communicate with their non-English speaking patients.

The Priority Line is available to eligible medical practitioners and pharmacists 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Contact the Free Interpreting Service team on 1300 575 847 for more information about this service.

Support from TIS National-Expand content

What is a TIS National account manager?

TIS National has a dedicated team of Client Liaison account managers who are available to help you and your organisation communicate with your non-English speaking clients.

Account managers are specialists in providing assistance to a wide range of client groups including:

  • commonwealth and state government agencies

  • private sector businesses

  • hospitals

  • medical practitioners in private practice

  • community sector organisations

  • utility companies

  • police and courts

  • local government

  • schools and universities

  • emergency services

Account managers can provide information and advice about the most suitable service solutions for your organisation.

Account managers can:

  • help you select the most suitable service options for your requirements

  • understand your clients’ needs

  • guide you on how provide feedback to TIS National

  • assist you to conduct an information session

  • provide advice on promoting TIS National services

  • provide access to promotional materials

  • provide service usage reports

Contact your Client Liaison account manager for more information.

TIS Online for agencies-Expand content

I work in a medical practice. Can all of our doctors share a TIS Online account?

In some instances, TIS National can provide a single client code for a medical practice. Please call TIS National to discuss your medical practice’s needs on 1300 575 847.

Using TIS National services-Expand content

Can I request a specific interpreter?

TIS National’s policy is to allocate work to interpreters on the basis of their:

This ensures that clients receive the most qualified available interpreter. 

In some circumstances, limited additional factors such as those outlined below may be taken into account in determining allocation. However, the highest available credential level always remains a primary criterion.

Gender:

TIS National accepts that there are sometimes circumstances where an interpreter of a specific gender is required.  For example, this may be necessary for sensitive matters, especially those of a medical nature. To facilitate this, clients can indicate the gender of interpreter required (where this is important). TIS National will then allocate the highest credentialed available interpreter of that gender, wherever possible.

Working with Children’s Check:

Occasionally, clients may advise TIS National that they require an interpreter with a Working with Children’s Check (or equivalent). Such requests are made in order to comply with relevant legislation and TIS National will therefore give such requests priority when determining allocation. In these circumstances, allocation will be to the most highly credentialed available interpreter who holds the required Check.

Specific Interpreter Requests:

TIS National strongly encourages clients to avoid requesting specific interpreters where possible.

Such requests:

  • limit TIS National’s ability to supply an interpreter, particularly for urgent requests (the specified interpreter may not be available when requested); and
  • may not result in allocation of the most highly credentialed interpreter available for your appointment.

In exceptional circumstances, TIS National may agree to fulfil a client’s request for a specific interpreter.  However, the client must first clearly demonstrate what exceptional circumstances apply to warrant allocation outside of normal policy. 

Whilst such requests are assessed on a case by case basis, they are more likely to be considered favourably where a client can demonstrate that allocation of the nominated interpreter is:

  • essential to maintaining the quality and continuity of care or service; and
  • of clear benefit to the non-English speaking client.

Clients will be required to complete an acknowledgement of requirements for the provision of a specific interpreter form, including details of the exceptional circumstances which apply, before TIS National will consider a specific interpreter request.

Specific interpreter requests must generally be made at least three business days prior to the appointment date. Requests made less than three business days in advance will only be considered in exceptional circumstances and will generally result in an interpreter being allocated in accordance with standard TIS National interpreter allocation policy.

If a specific interpreter request is declined, the client will be offered the highest credentialed interpreter available at the time. Where a client chooses not to accept the interpreter allocated in this manner and decides to cancel the request, this must be done with sufficient notice, in accordance with TIS National’s Cancellation Policy in order to avoid charges. Cancellations must be made in TIS Online or in writing, as appropriate.

No other considerations are ordinarily taken into account when allocating assignments. 

TIS National:

  • does not keep records on interpreters’ ethnicity, nationality, country of birth, religion or political affiliations and is unable to allocate interpreters based on these considerations
  • will not provide a specific interpreter simply to meet the personal preferences of the client or non-English speaker (NES)
  • will not agree to allocate a specific interpreter outside of the usual allocation policy where there is no evidence to substantiate a history or continuity of care or service.