In-Person Interpreting Remains a Growth Business, Propio CEO Marco Assis

US Healthcare Interpreting

Propio Language Services is based in the US, and is the fastest-growing language service provider in its category in Slator’s Language Service Provider Index 2023, with 190% revenue growth in 2022 to USD 96m. At SlatorCon Remote, June 2023, and taking what he called “a quick break from AI and large language models,” Propio Language Services CEO Marco Assis set the stage for an insightful keynote address about the US interpreting market.

Assis, now in his sixth year leading the language service provider (LSP), focused on the core service of Propio, which is human-provided interpreting in three main modalities: over-the-phone (OPI), remote by video (VRI), and in-person. Of these modalities, Assis explained, OPI continues to be the most cost-efficient and fastest way to access an interpreter.

Walking attendees through some key figures based on the company’s own research as well as other data, Assis mentioned that total expenditure on healthcare insurance (a main driver of interpreting demand) in the US is almost USD 3bn. 

Healthcare accounts for over 50% of Propio’s business, and demand grows year on year by an average of 5-8%, Assis said, adding that this trend is expected to continue in the next few years.

The USD 3bn figure is representative of the broader US interpreting addressable market, and the projection for larger healthcare interpreting clients is that 30% of services are being covered by in-house staff and 70% are outsourced. The latter is where Propio and other service providers come in, explained Assis.

Healthcare Total Addressable Market

The CEO added that approximately an additional USD 3bn in finance, professional services, and education are also part of the overall US interpreting addressable market, for a total of USD 6-7bn.

Adding more video into the mix of services helps with the overall growth of the industry, estimates the CEO. He explained that VRI saw greater adoption after the Covid pandemic and continues to grow, including American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting.

The other modality, in-person interpreting, has not been replaced by other options and continues to be a resilient segment, contrary to what Assis himself and others thought a few years back.

“When you talk about a regulatory environment, you have to be careful about what you automate… we’re talking about outcomes that cannot be reversed, and coming back to similar analogies to the driverless cars, to where a concept seems doable, reality it’s quite deeper.” — Marco Assis, Propio Language Services CEO

A most interesting trend, and one where his company also sees growth, is a shift in end client focus from mere compliance to delivering a better customer experience. “You’re talking about competitive markets, you’re talking about living in a world where reviews are important, five-star ratings.”

For those who missed SlatorCon Remote June 2023 in real-time, recordings will be available in due course via our Pro and Enterprise plans.