Imagine a situation where you are traveling in a foreign country. You fall and hurt your foot and need urgent medical attention. You have travel insurance to cover emergencies and go to a local hospital. But, how do you communicate with the nurses to tell them where it hurts? How do you tell the doctor that you are allergic to a certain brand of antibiotics? This is a very common occurrence and one that has only recently been addressed with the help of technology.
Healthcare Language Barriers
Translation in the medical industry is a tricky subject to tackle. Most medical facilities have state-of-the-art technology like x-ray machines and other high-tech equipment, but the industry as a whole is still behind in terms of being able to easily and accurately translate languages between patients and healthcare practitioners.
Recently, certain advancements have been made which are reconfiguring the boundaries between patients and practitioners.
The healthcare industry is looking to include various technological efforts into its sectors to help patients receive correct care. Translation technology can help healthcare professionals and patients communicate, despite language barriers.
Medical Translation Technology
There are currently a number of impressive translation programs for doctors and healthcare practitioners to use. These systems (which are also available in apps) remove the need for human translators to be present in hospitals 24/7. Companies, such as MediBabble and Canopy, are pushing medical frontiers by offering basic medical translation.
According to Canopy, the language barrier affects the quality of care for approximately 30 million patients in the United States alone.
MediBabble’s features include: a database of clinical questions and instructions, detailed patient instructions, no required internet connection, and translates Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, and Haitian Creole into English.
Canopy offers an app, Canopy Speak, and a course, Canopy Learn, both aimed at medical translation. Canopy Speak offers an interactive phrase library, a “call interpreter” function which connects you directly to the facility’s interpreters to address complex patient needs and currently covers 15 languages. Canopy Learn covers a wide range of medical concepts and Spanish grammar, with the goal of obtaining advanced-intermediate conversation skills in medical Spanish.
In addition to translation, there are other innovative ways technology is transforming the healthcare industry. The implementation of various big data computer systems that can keep a record of all patient activities are changing the way we view health information. These computers track the patient’s history and analyze treatment options.
Healthcare concerns that have remained with us over the past 50 years include excessive waste, unaffordable care, a shortage of good healthcare and a lack of real communication between the doctors and the patients. Millennials and the next generation are pursuing social progress and looking at ways they can promote innovation.
It is clear to see technology efforts are helping the healthcare industry revisit the way they communicate with their patients, from medical translation tools to mobile apps. Even though much of these technology advancements are still in the testing and early stages, we have seen some significant strides that could eventually aid in communication and cut healthcare costs for those who cannot afford it, as well as improve the patient-doctor relationship.