Overcoming language barriers in healthcare
When caring for patients from non-English speaking backgrounds, healthcare providers often require the services of an interpreter to help patients and their clinicians communicate.
But qualified interpreters are not always available, and clinicians' ability to adequately assess and respond to their non-English speaking patients' needs can be affected by how well they are able to communicate with one another.
We’ve developed a communication app to support the care of patients from non-English speaking backgrounds
Our researchers from the Australian eHealth Research Centre, together with Western Health, developed CALD Assist, an innovative app to help clinicians and patients from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds communicate when an interpreter is not available.
CALD Assist now includes COVID-19 screening questions, making it easier for the community to communicate with health professionals.
The CALD Assist app features
- more than 200 commonly used phrases professionally interpreted into ten languages: Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mandarin, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese
- convenient language grouping into seven different disciplines: new COVID-19 screening questions, dietetics, speech pathology, podiatry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nursing
- images, video and pre-recorded audio to further aid communication between clinician and patient
- interactivity with 'Answer options' to help patients respond to common questions.
CALD Assist effectively supports communication between clinicians and patients
We trialled the CALD Assist app with allied health clinicians and nursing staff at the Footscray, Sunshine and Williamstown Hospitals in Melbourne.
Results from our trials indicated that:
- staff believed the app was valuable and easy to use
- the time required to complete allied health assessments with patients from non-English speaking backgrounds reduced when using the app
- patients were satisfied with how the app supported their communication
- clinician 'confidence' in the patient's level of understanding of instructions increased when using the app
- clinicians reported 'success of the interaction' increased when using the app.
Since its inception in 2015, CALD Assist has received numerous awards:
- 2018 iAwards Victoria Merit Certificate (Public Sector and Government)
- 2018 iAwards Pitchfest winner
- 2017 The Health Roundtable Innovations Award 'Improving the Continuum of Care'
- 2015 Health Informatics Society Australia, Branko Cesnik Award for Best Academic/Scientific paper
- 2015 Gold 'Improving health equality and closing the gap', Victorian Public Healthcare Awards