How to Solve the Language Barriers in Healthcare

Healthcare professionals want nothing more than to help their patients feel and be better. But the language barrier between patients and healthcare providers creates a barrier in communication that can slow down, stop, or even reverse healing. Learn more about what the barriers to effective communication in healthcare are and how SYSTRAN can help you overcome them. 

Language Barriers between Patients and Healthcare Providers 

The most common language barrier in healthcare is between healthcare providers and their patients. At every step of the healthcare process, a patient needs to easily communicate with their healthcare provider. 

Removing Barriers of Health Communication before Meeting the Doctor 

Communication starts before a patient ever meets a doctor. An essential part of the intake is taking a patient’s medical history. This helps the nurse or doctor acquire vital information about the patient, including their allergies, previous surgeries or illnesses, and immunizations.  

Difficulty in understanding or communicating in this very first step of patient care can lead to misdiagnosis. And in some cases, it can even harm the patient by not gathering accurate information. 

More than a third of the nation’s hospitals do not offer medical document translation or language assistance. This creates a major issue with patient care because it limits how patients and doctors interact with each other and share information.  

 Three healthcare professionals looking at an X-ray result

How Can Spoken Language Barriers Be Overcome in Healthcare? 

 Communicating and speaking to each other is another essential part of patient care. A language barrier between a doctor and a patient means that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for a doctor to ask simple questions like, “Where does it hurt?” or “Does it hurt when I touch here?” This problem also is an issue in post-care. If there is no communication route, a doctor or nurse has no way of knowing if there is any residual pain, if the problem has been resolved, or if any additional issues need to be addressed.  

Success in healthcare depends on aftercare. Aftercare instructions are vital to ensure that a patient stays on track after being treated. When patients understand their aftercare routine and needs, they are less likely to return to the hospital. While patients who do not understand or do not follow aftercare instructions are more likely to see complications in their recovery.  

At every point in patient care, communication is essential. Having to struggle with a communication barrier in health only increases complications. 

Professional-to-Professional Communication 

When healthcare professionals are faced with a difficult case, they turn to each other for help. They understand one person might not know everything, but they can collaborate and find a better solution as a team.  

In some cases, that collaboration stretches internationally. Especially when dealing with medical trials and research, it’s not uncommon for hospitals, practices, and laboratories worldwide to collaborate.  

Communication between healthcare professionals is highly technical and precise, and even the slightest miscommunication or language barrier can lead to long-term delays or complications.  

 A pregnant woman consulting with her doctor


With decades of experience as the industry leader in machine translation, SYSTRAN makes automatic translation possible for any medical professional while maintaining security requirements and greatly easing costs when compared to human translation 

SYSTRAN utilizes an AI-powered neural machine translation service that helps quickly and accurately translate even the most technical medical terminology in over 50 languages. We even have a health model equipped with COVID terminology to help improve accuracy and precision within translation.

SYSTRAN’s on site server translation solution follows all HIPAA regulations. It makes it so your existing internal firewalls and security systems can protect your translations. We make sure that patient’s personal information and any information translated with SYSTRAN is private and secure following all necessary security regulations.  

Fast, Accurate, Reliable Machine Translation Helps at Every Point in Patient Care 

  • When being admitted, translation can break down the language barrier, making the patient more willing to be honest and open about their illness and medical history.  
  • When dealing directly with a healthcare provider, translation makes it possible for a conversation between patient and healthcare provider to ensure that nothing is overlooked or forgotten.  
  • Translation ensures that aftercare instructions are understood, which reduces bounce-back rates and helps eliminate unnecessary complications.  

When dealing with professional communications, SYSTRAN streamlines the collaborative process, empowering doctors, nurses, and researchers to focus on the facts instead of the words, grammar, and sentence structure. 

 We provide the most advanced machine translation software available, so medical professionals never have to worry about language barriers. Contact us today to see how we can help you overcome any language barrier in healthcare 

Julie - Business Solution Specialist
3 Min Read
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