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Communications Medicine Technology

Device Addresses Healthcare Language Barrier 159

Posted by timothy
from the babelfish-too-accurate dept.
Zothecula writes "With over 170 languages spoken in the US alone, medical personnel attending an emergency or working in a busy hospital are no doubt often faced with communication problems when trying to dispense treatment. The Phrazer offers a possible solution to this problem. It is billed as the world's first multilingual communication system, where patients provide medical background information, symptoms or complaints with the help of a virtual onscreen doctor speaking in their own native tongue. This information is then summarized into a medical record compatible with all major EMR systems." All that for only 12 to 18 thousand dollars.
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Device Addresses Healthcare Language Barrier

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  • Here's an idea: why not make English an official language of the United States. English is already the unofficial language used when doing international business, and it is also the language most often used in science.

    If Pakistan can have English as their official language then why not the United States?

    Because "official languages" are languages used by government, not languages people are forced to use with ER after severe head trauma. "Sorry, you have to communicate only in English" doesn't sound like something someone dedicated to saving lives is going to want to have to say.

    However, this system seems to imply that people whose stronger languages aren't English are literate enough in those other languages to comprehend the feedback in not only triage, but a complete medical diagnostic. I find this a bit of wishful thinking. But if the device can actually pull it off, it's price tag is extremely cheap.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @01:23AM (#35328658) Homepage Journal
    I'm a physician, and this kind of stuff is medical shovelware. It will be sold to some poor hospital administrator somewhere who is not medically trained but who thinks that this sounds like a right easy solution to the problem of those non-English-speaking people who keep bumping up the delay times in the ER (a real problem in parts of the country that are just now seeing significant Hispanic influx, like much of the South and Midwest). Meanwhile, the doctors and nurses at the front line will find it ill-suited to what they actually need to accomplish. Flash cards work pretty well for most communication to rule out immediately life-threatening illnesses. After that, you really need a highly qualified translator. Maybe in five years, or a decade, machines will be at that point (although they'll be Google Translate's server farms, not some hand-held piece of junk), but they're not there yet, and it's wasteful and stupid to pretend that they are.

This is a good time to punt work.

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