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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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  • by tetromino (807969) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @04:52AM (#35329320)
    who are wondering why healthcare language barrier is such a major issue in America:
    • In major US cities, there are a lot of people who were born overseas and don't known English well. They include foreign tourists (whose grasp of English may be limited to a few dozen phrases from a guidebook); recently arrived immigrants who haven't had time to fully learn the language; and residents of ethnic enclaves who don't know much English because they don't need to — 95% of their daily communication is in another language.
    • Human biology being what it is, the people who are the most likely to find themselves in need of medical attention are old. And old people universally suck at languages. They have trouble remembering new vocabulary, they have trouble getting the pronunciation right, and when they get stressed (such as when they are in a hospital due to a sudden medical problem), they tend to forget English words and phrases and have to resort to their native language.
    • Even foreigners who know English fairly well may have trouble with medical vocabulary (if you don't believe me, here is a quick illustration: if there is a foreign language that you think you know pretty well, try saying "irregular heartbeat" or "intestinal bleeding" in it). Not to mention the prevalence of false cognates (e.g. "angina" means "chest pains" in English and "tonsillitis" in Russian) and the fact that different countries often use completely different names for the same drug.

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