Clinicians' Challenge winner launches clinical translation app

The winning entry in the 2011 Clinicians' Challenge has been officially released after several years of development, resulting in an app that can be used by patients with speech difficulties or English as a second language to communicate with clinicians, and vice versa.

Listen Please was first put forward in the 2011 competition, which is organised by HINZ, the New Zealand Health IT Cluster and the National Health IT Board, and has since been refined by inventor Janet Liang.

Dr Liang, an intensive care specialist at North Shore Hospital in Takapuna, developed the app for use in medical emergencies and at the bedside. It is primarily aimed at patients who can't speak at all due to airway restrictions or for patients who don't speak English.

It can translate Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Samoan and Tongan through printed and audio translations and uses pictures and photos to help understanding. The idea is to use the app in emergency situations when a human translator is not available.

“The app has been created out of my own professional observations about how we can better communicate with patients who don’t understand a lot of English, and for them to communicate with us more clearly when they cannot speak English or can’t speak at all,” Dr Liang said in a statement.

“Clinical translators do a fantastic job, but it sometimes isn’t practical to have one around all day, or sometimes they cannot be available quickly enough.

“The app allows for clinicians to ask simple questions that would be covered in a standard consultation, such as ‘Are you in any pain?’ or ‘Where do you feel pain?’, while patients can also communicate with medical staff, for example, if they we wanted to speak to family members or to go to the toilet.”

Dr Liang has devised a series of questions that clinicians would need to ask in an emergency as well as those that can be asked during everyday care. The questions are worded to suggest Yes (tick)/ No (cross)/ Don't Know (question mark) answers so that clinicians don't need to translate the patient's reply.

There is also a patient talks mode to allow patients to communicate common needs such as wanting to speak to family or to go to the toilet. The clinician asks mode allows users to take a basic history or perform an examination.

Dr Liang has used the prize money from the Clinicians' Challenge as well as a grant from Waitemata DHB and her own funds to create the app. She plans to use the proceeds of sales to further develop the app and add more translated statements and languages.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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