The non-English speaking patient population in the U.S. accounts for an estimated 30 million people and they seek for the best medical interpreting apps. Overcoming language barriers is critical for patients who are not fluent in English and the healthcare professionals that serve them.
Multilingual Medical Mobile Apps
Telephonic medical interpreting is increasingly popular due to limited budgets. Since on-site interpreters are not always an option, several healthcare IT companies have recently developed interpreting apps. Not all of them are effective due to the complexities of translating medical terminology. Below are five examples of icon-based mobile apps that are helpful in assisting healthcare providers to communicate with their patients.
A New York-based company, Canopy Apps, has developed a multilingual medical translator platform to explain complex medical concepts to non-English speaking patients in 20 languages. The app covers four medical specialties – Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, OB/GYN and Surgery. Other specialties that require more patient interaction are being developed as well as other highly requested languages. The app provides multilingual phrases that explain to the patient what is involved in performing a specific medical procedure.
eCaring developed a home healthcare monitoring platform to help seniors stay at home longer. The platform, designed for caregivers whose native language is not English, is available in Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino among other languages. Icons are used to represent daily activities such as eating, going to the bathroom, and exercising, as well as the patient’s mood. The information is useful for medical staff to help assess the patient’s progress and any side effects.
Starling Health uses visual icons to facilitate communication between patients and medical staff. This app shows a patient’s request history, lead time and commonly requested items. It provides patients and medical staff with a way to gain better understanding, while reducing the chances of patient readmission. Newer options include aid for patients with limited verbal skills due to a stroke, a physical or neurological condition or surgery.
VerbalCare is aimed at patients who are hospitalized and bedridden. Although it was originally developed for stroke patients with aphasia, there are broader applications. A patient can choose from various icons to transmit a message to their nurse. For example, they can let the nurse know if there is an urgent issue such as “I’m in pain” or “I can’t breathe.” Nurses receive patient’s message in real-time on a mobile device which allows them to respond quickly to their patient’s needs.
Mobile Video Remote Interpretation
An important component of verbal communication between a patient and their healthcare provider includes visual cues related to their medical issue. This is absent with telephonic interpreting. Mobile Video Remote Interpretation allows the healthcare professional to offer remote video interpreters using iPads and iPhones. This means no extra investment in technology is necessary, with the added advantage of a visual image of the interpreter and the patient.
The need for overcoming language barriers in medicine is increasing along with the growing population of non-English speaking individuals in the United States. On site medical interpreters remain the best option for effective communication. Although human interpreters are preferable, mobile interpreting apps are helpful in certain situations, especially when a professional medical interpreter is not available,
Source: Mobile Health Innovations Reducing Language Barriers
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