Memphis-Area Hospitals Relying on New Telephone Technology To Communicate With Patients Speaking English as Second Language
More Memphis, Tenn.-area hospitals are using new telephone technology to communicate with a growing population that speaks English as a second language, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.
The technology, called CyraCom, can interpret 150 languages at any time. Methodist Hospitals -- which in 2000 treated 300 patients with limited English proficiency and expects to treat 2,000 such patients this year -- began using CyraCom in 2006 and said the service is fast, accurate and reliable.
Despite existence of such technology, face-to-face interpretation usually is preferred, Ruthbeth Finerman, a University of Memphis anthropology professor and former consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Health Organization, said. She added that "unwieldy" systems "can't address nonverbal expressions, which are essential for truly understanding patients from other cultures, and may produce mistranslations." She recommended that funding would be better spent on hiring bilingual staff (Batiwalla, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 6/21).