Finally! New apps available to help Spanish speakers better communicate with doctors

These days, there seems to be an app for everything, from the actually useful to the plain ridiculous. But few that I've seen are as significant and useful as apps like Polyglot Medical Spanish and MediBabble Translator, which help Spanish-dominant patients communicate with doctors more easily.

To which my response is…finally! What took so long?


Anyone who speaks Spanish, has Spanish-speaking relatives or has ever just visited a doctor's office knows that having a language barrier poses a HUGE problem for those seeking help from medics. For starters, patients can't explain their issues as thoroughly…which means doctors can't prescribe as accurately and that people aren't getting the treatment they need and deserve.

But in addition to that, a lack of communication can also affect the level of respect you get from busy doctors and nurses who just don't have the time (or in some cases, don't want to take the time) to sit and try to work out a conversation.  

Read more ¿Qué más?: Is there ever a wrong time to speak Spanish?

I actually worked at a doctor's office for a while as a part-time job and I would see this happen time and time again. Doctors with basically zero Spanish-speaking abilities and patients with basically zero English-speaking abilities would go back and forth, getting absolutely nothing done until the doctor would eventually hand over a prescription that they thought would get to the root of the general problem. I can't even tell you how many times I offered to translate for both sides to avoid this--not because I'm a great Spanish speaker (I'm not), but because I couldn't stand to think these people would never really get the results they needed to feel better.

That's not say it's anyone's fault necessarily (although at this point, basic Spanish should really just be required for doctors), but that the inability to converse effectively could potentially be severely harming someone's health. That's why I was SO happy to hear about these apps, which provide assistance and immediate audio translation for common medical words, phrases, and questions in both languages.

Available for FREE on iTunes, apps like Polygot Med Spanish act as a great resource for professionals and their patients to better interact with each other--which means they also help improve the safety and quality of the care they give and receive. Isn't that great?!

It's so good to hear that someone has finally addressed this issue in such a practical and wide-reaching way! Now, I just hope that not only do these apps become widely used, but that MORE resources like these get made. It might seem like a small step, but it can really help to add some ease and comforts to people's lives.

Images via Thinkstock, Duke AHEC Program

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