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Hospital Responds to 'Ayudame'
Translation software makes inroads where rapid and accurate customer communication is literally life-or-death.
Posted Sep 5, 2008
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Bayshore Community Hospital will be the first hospital in the United States to adopt Spoken Translation's Converser for Healthcare, English/Spanish. The hospital plans to use Converser—an interactive software system that interprets and translates conversations between English and Spanish speakers—in all its customer-facing departments in an effort to increase patient satisfaction within its Spanish-speaking community. Bayshore—a 225-bed acute care hospital with a staff of over 2,000 doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals—has already introduced Converser into several departments and plans to expand its use to the entire staff within six months.

"It’s been a very good tool to add to our services," says Chris Domalewski, vice president of marketing and community relations. "It is extremely helpful to patients and also to our staff."

According to Domalewski, staff at Bayshore successfully utilized Converser recently when asking a Latino patient—who didn’t speak English—to use a wheelchair.

"He simply didn’t understand it in English," Domalewski says of the patient who initially refused the request. "But once we wrote it on the screen…[Converser] spoke [in Spanish] back out at him, ‘please get into the wheelchair.’ So it was very simple…. It was very helpful." 

Converser is different from other communication and translation tools: It is not limited to the delivery of preprogrammed phrases and supports wide-ranging two-way conversations. As such, Bayshore staff can communicate with patients based on the specific needs of any situation. Text for translation can be entered by speech, typing, handwriting, and point-and-click.

"It’s a one of a kind," Domalewski says. "We’ve built a close relationship with [Spoken] and it will grow. We’re starting with Spanish. We have interest in developing it into Chinese…and a few other languages they have on the horizon. So, it’s a product that will grow."

"We had translation services before, but this allows the speed of the translation to be much quicker and it’s so easy," Domalewski says. "You write a sentence on the screen and it just speaks back at you…it just converts it right away. It’s very easy and it’s bedside. It’s portable."

Additionally, translations can be verified by Converser's Reliable Retranslation technology—which provides a translation of the translation—and, if a word is mistranslated, Converser allows for fast correction by providing a list of alternative meanings.

"More and more staff are being trained as we speak," Domalewski says. "As time goes on it will be in more places throughout the hospital on more machines and more laptops…. It can only get better and it’s helped us tremendously."

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