Last Updated on January 24, 2019
A new translation guide is helping health care professionals communicate with immigrants and thus break down one of the biggest challenges facing newcomers in Canada today.
The guide, a computerized translation tool that provides phonetic translations of common medical symptoms and terms, allows Ontario doctors to communicate with patients in 15 of the most common languages in the province.
“In the emergency department, if somebody comes in with a serious problem and there’s nobody there that speaks that language, you immediately have a barrier to the information exchange that’s critical to finding out what’s wrong,” says Dr. Joel Ray, who is based out of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto where he developed the tool.
Dr. Ray argues that as Canada’s population ages and becomes more reliant upon immigrants to fill the workforce (who are themselves aging as well), the country needs to be at the forefront of new medical technologies and techniques, not only in terms of language.
Doctors also need to adjust their methods of diagnosis and classification depending on the origins and specific needs of their patients, says Dr. Ray. Some immigrants are more susceptible to certain diseases, such as diabetes. Education will help doctors to learn what to look for in which patients, while this tool will help them learn how to ask the necessary questions in a way that will allow them to be understood.
Source: Globe and Mail