User-driven Tool for Bilingual Clinical Dialogs and Medical Language Acquisition

Period of Performance: 08/01/2015 - 07/31/2016


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Transcendent International, LLC
NEW YORK, NY 10017
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Persistent disparities in healthcare access hinder the nation's 26 million individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) from receiving quality care and, as a result, from achieving optimal health outcomes. Patients who struggle to understand their care providers report difficulty navigating both administrative and clinical procedures and experience significantly higher rates of delays in care delivery and poorer outcomes than their English-proficient counterparts. Despite numerous federal and state-level mandates for increased language assistance services, healthcare organizations have had limited success in tackling these challenges posed by the language barrier. This project aims to bring much-needed innovation to alleviate communication obstacles and accompanying health disparities. The envisioned solution will offer both in-clinic communication support and user-driven medical language skills acquisition training that can be accessed on desktop computers, touchscreen tablets, and mobile devices. The resultant system will leverage the medical provider community to identify actual in-clinic communication needs, which will drive the development of targeted learning materials that are relevant to the intended users. The medical interpreter community, a highly valuable but underutilized resource, will be leveraged to aid providers in their efforts to acquire second-language proficiency as well as provide on-demand live interpretations services through a streamlined method of connection on the envisioned product. The system will be evaluated by LEP patients, front-line healthcare providers, and certified medical interpreters to assess its ability to improve provider-patient communication and, in so doing, meaningfully contribute to addressing the health disparities facing these underserved populations.