Medphase is a mobile app that provides an easy and convenient way for users to express and understand health concerns if a language barrier exists. It also acts as a tool that helps users to locate hospitals and pharmacies. 

Miscommunication and Language in Healthcare

Language barriers between a patient and a healthcare provider can lead to stress and miscommunication. In the United States, individuals and families who have limited English proficiency are more likely to have poor health status, lack medical insurance, and lack access to preventative and specialty care.

Language barriers not only apply to doctor appointments but also to everyday pharmacy visits

The inability to navigate a pharmacy for remedies to simple health issues, such as a headache or insect sting, can be distressing and lead to the patient to giving up and not seeking out available help.

Current Solutions on the Market

The two main solutions currently available are medical interpreters and translation mobile apps. Based on research, I discovered issues that related to each solution.

Medicial Interpreter
Medical provider and patient are reliant on a third party being present

Not every office has a medical interpreter on staff or has a limited number of multilingual staff members who can act as an interpreter

Translation Mobile Apps
Lack of visual representations and confusing medical vocabulary

No visual representations is unhelpful for people who have limited reading ability and filtering through complex medical vocabulary can be very confusing for a patient leading to more stress in an already stressful situation

Key Insight Analyzation

Based on these observations, I wanted to design a simple solution that patients would be able to access and use independently and that would facilitate communication between patients and health providers.

How can the needs of a patient be communicated in a natural way between a patient and health provider when a lanuguage barrier is present?

Medphase’s Solution

Looking at the current market solutions, I decided to design a mobile app that combines easy access for the patient and the health provider along with minimizing the confusion brought on by a reliance on extensive medical vocabulary that is an issue with the current apps on the market.

Independent Access

Mobile app allows for independent access, so patient is not reliant on another person for help

Visual Icons

Visualization of symptoms through icons provides reinforcement to the written and audio translations

Translations (written & audio)

Patient can listen for correct pronunciation and can write it if he has difficulty saying the word

Medphase’s Features

By simplifying the navigation of the app, categories, and vocabulary, Medphase can be used in both a medical provider/patient scenario and a pharmacy scenario. Medphase features key elements including a language selector, health categories with graphic icons, translations that feature written phonetic pronunciation and audio pronunciation, as well as a pharmacy and hospital locator.

Visual Icons

I wanted to address the issue of the extensive medical vocabulary that mobile apps normally include. Focusing on general health terms, such as body parts and symptoms, I developed icons that would be useful in a medical and pharmacy setting. I also thought about how a patient would describe an illness, developing icons for those descriptive words. I decided to eliminate the medical terms that only medical professionals would use and focused on words that patients would use instead. 

I tested the icons on a range of people of different ages, background, and education levels to develop graphic icons that would easily be understood by a range of people. 

© 2018 Laura Rodriguez