Two California medical students, dismayed by communication breakdowns in emergency rooms where patients don’t speak English, are changing the face of global medicine with their new software app, MediBabble.
Doctors and nurses can use their smart phones to play pre-recorded questions for patients in their native languages — questions about medical history and current symptoms, the answers to which would dictate 90 percent of normal patient care.
“It started from our own desire to take better care of our patients. We were limited in our ability to get rapid interpretation services,” explains Alex Blau, one of the UCSF students who developed the app. “So many of us are walking around the hospital with these sophisticated devices in our pockets, so [we thought], why isn’t there some app you can pull up to ask high-level questions for time-sensitive conditions?”
Best of all, the app is available free to providers around the globe.
Blau, along with Brad Cohn, worked for three years to develop the software, along with a team of translators, developers, and doctors, coming up with thousands of questions and translated them into Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian, Spanish and even Haitian-Creole, which was needed after the Haiti earthquake. Still to be developed are questions in French, German, Hindi, Urdu and Arabic.