Nurse Liz Leo on routine use of the Canopy Speak App

"It’s unethical and inhumane to not tell your patients what is going on with them in their language. If you can’t do that with a language line or with an in-person translator and you need information quickly, the easiest thing that you can do is use Canopy Apps."

Tell me a bit about yourself! What is your field of medicine? Where do you practice?

I work as a nurse at a Hospital in Brooklyn, NY in Labor and Delivery. I would say for about 50% of our patients, English is a second language: I’m just estimating, it could be more it could be less. But, almost everytime I work I have to use the language line and we only have one language line phone in our entire unit! A lot of the residents have the number of the language line in their phones so that they can call from their phones and use our access code. But we’re asking the same questions all of the time. We ask the same questions of all of our patients: in triage, when we start to interview them in the morning, when we’re assessing them… so I like to have pre-written questions available for the things that I routinely ask my patients. So, I use the pre-formed questions a lot when I’m just trying to gather information, but what I find really helpful as well is having a direct button to the language line so that I can access the interpreter quickly. I think that the Canopy App would help people in our unit to ask basic questions.

How did you hear about the Canopy translation app?

One of the attendings in my unit uses the app. I would say about 90% of her patients are native Chinese speakers, whether it’s Cantonese or Mandarin. So she uses the app a lot. She herself is actually Chinese, but it is not her first language.

Do you find that there the languages we have in the app are sufficient?

I specifically have  a lot of Urdu-speaking patients and Canopy doesn’t have Urdu as an option.

There are some things for labor and delivery that I wish were on the app because they’re simple “yes” or “no” questions that we ask every patient. For example, “Is your baby moving?” That’s not on the app but it’s a really really really important question to ask a pregnant woman because it will determine whether she’s seen before somebody else or not.

How do you balance using the app with calling phone translation services or deciding to wait for in-person interpreter. What are the most useful phrases for you? How do your patients generally respond to the app?

So luckily our staff is about as equally diverse as our patient population and we have a lot of people on staff that speak the languages of our patients. But asking coworkers to translate results in pulling those providers away from their patients. I would say that if I’m trying to educate a patient about a medication or tell them about a physician or what the plan of the day is, I don’t use the app. I call the language line because I think it’s more effective to actually have somebody speaking and translating. And for consent I never use the app. But, if I’m just trying to tell a patient that someone is going to come in and check how dilated she is, that someone is going to insert a Foley catheter, or if I want to ask if she’d like an epidural, then the phrases are there in the app and I don’t have to call the language line.

I routinely use the app. Let’s say that I call the language line and I’ve ask all my questions but then I realize after that I forgot to ask the interpreter to translate the question,  “When was your last period?” or something like that. To have those basic questions available on the app is really helpful.

My patients have responded positively to it. A lot of people will use Google Translate and the patients have tried to use Google Translate to communicate back to me and something else completely different and nonsensical ends up being translated. So, when I’ve use the app with patients who have somebody with them who can also speak some English, they’ve been really impressed. Native speakers who are on staff have also been impressed by the app.

Why do you think the medical translation app is an important tool for the healthcare world and what words do you have for other practitioners who are unfamiliar with the translation app?

I think it’s important for the healthcare world because it’s unethical and inhumane to not tell your patients what is going on with them in their language. If you can’t do that with a language line or with an in-person translator and you need information quickly, the easiest thing that you can do is use Canopy Apps. In my specialty, if somebody comes in and there is an emergency and I want to ask her how many weeks pregnant she is, then I need something quick. And what I find so useful about the app is that I just press the phone key and I’m connected to the translator immediately. I’ve encouraged all of my coworkers to download the app and give it a try and I know that providers who do speak some of the languages on the app have hold me that it’s very accurate.

*Hearing feedback from users like Liz helps us to incorporate the content that you need for your specialty. We take your suggestions, critiques, and praises seriously!

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