Investigating the use of translation apps and websites in health care settings

Project Number
PS48156

Project Status
Completed

Chief investigators
Ben Harris-Roxas, Lisa Woodland (SESLHD), Joanne Corcoran (SESLHD), Jane Lloyd, Mark Harris

Team members
Eva Melhem (WSLHD), Vesna Dragoje (SLHD), Cathy Preston-Thomas (SWSLHD), Sue Buckman (HNELHD), Rachael Kearns, Iqbal Hasan

Project background and key findings

This project was jointly funded by the NSW Ministry of Health and the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District. The project included Investigators from SESLHD, site Investigators from HNELHD, SWSLHD, WSLHD, SLHD and SESLHD, and a broader advisory group that includes the Ministry of Health, the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service and the five participating LHDs.

The project came about following a 2017 survey on the use of interpreter services staff in SESLHD, St Vincents Hospital Network and the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network. Te 2017 survey found 18% percent of staff had used a translation app or website. These findings contributed to an update of the Interpreters – Standard Procedures for Working with Health Care Interpreters Policy Directive [Policy Directive PD2017_044].

This study built on the earlier research by looking in detail at the use of translation apps and websites across five LHDs. A survey was conducted with more than 1,500 respondents and semi-structured interviews with 24 participants. A key finding is that apps and websites continue to be used in clinical settings. The study found that 33% of respondents had used translation apps and websites, and that in two-thirds of cases it was clinicians who initiated use. This has implications not only for the implementation of existing policy but also the use and development of other multicultural communication tools across NSW Health.

The project led to a Research to Practice Forum in September 2019 that was jointly organised by SEaRCH with SESLHD Multicultural Health. The Forum was attended by more than 120 people and included two keynote addresses by CPHCE and CSIRO staff, and presentations from UNSW Sydney, Swinburne University and several LHDs.

The project has informed the planning and development for a localisation and trial of a phrase app in NSW, which has involved the Ministry of Health and eHealth NSW.

Project aims

The study's aims were to:

  1. Understand the nature and extent of use of translation apps in health care settings.
  2. Understand the potential risks and benefits of such use.
  3. Identify potential responses by health services and health systems.

Project design

This was a mixed-method exploratory study. A cross-sectional, online survey of 1,500 health professionals employed by five LHDs was conducted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 health professionals as well as relevant staff from the LHDs and NSW Ministry of Health.

Dissemination

Related events

Can Technology Speak My Language? The role of technology in health translation and interpreting

Presentations

Dragoje, V., Harris-Roxas, B., Woodland, L., Corcoran, J., Lloyd, J., Harris, M., … Hasan, I. (2019, October 18). Use of translation apps and websites in the health care setting. Presented at the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) National Conference 2019, Hobart.

Harris-Roxas, B., Woodland, L., Corcoran, J., Lloyd, J., Harris, M., Kearns, R., & Hasan, I. (2019, July 12). Use of translation apps and websites in health care settings: Results of a survey across five NSW Local Health Districts. Presented at the Australasian Association for Academic Primary Care (AAAPC) 2019 Conference, Adelaide.

Harris-Roxas, B., Woodland, L., Corcoran, J., Lloyd, J., Harris, M., R Kearns, & Hasan, I. (2019, September 25). It’s already happening: Use of translation apps and websites in health care settings: Results of a study across five NSW Local Health Districts [Plenary]. Presented at the Research to Practice Forum: Can technology Speak my Language? The role of technology in health translation and interpreting, Sydney.