Region Västmanland manages healthcare services for the approximately 280,000 inhabitants living in the area. We interviewed Mikael Svenda, who has been working in the ambulance and emergency medical services in Region Västmanland for over 30 years. In the last three years, he has been responsible for the mobile communication system in the ambulances and lately, to integrate Care to Translate into it.
Using professional interpreters simply doesn't work in the ambulance services. Since the paramedics work weekends and all kinds of hours, getting an interpreter on the phone is not convenient. Also, there is not enough time with each patient to wait for an interpreter in a certain language to become available. More often, children, relatives, or people in the surroundings who speak the language were used as interpreters.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Mikael and his colleagues felt that it became more difficult to communicate with face masks, visors, and all the protective gear. It was getting difficult to hear, understand mimics, and body language. They needed something that could bridge that communication gap.
Several staff members had been using the freemium version sporadically. Then a manager who had been in contact with Care to Translate suggested that they buy a license to get the full app version that is made for organizations. Mikael thought it looked good, so they did a trial and eventually decided to buy the license. They could see some major benefits of using the app to communicate, in both English and other languages.
Mikael and his colleagues at Region Västmanland found the app quick to start, and they specifically appreciated the simple design. It makes it easy to use and find the phrases you need. "It is almost self-instructive," says Mikael. "It is great for finding out background information about the patient, like allergies, etc. We also use it to explain to family members, for example, that they can't come along in the ambulance, etc." He continues:
"It enables the patient to understand what we are doing and participate in another way than before. And we can communicate things that we couldn't before."
Mikael sees the potential for Region Västmanland to work more with the playlists. "We are going to team up with all the stations and really custom make them for the organization and workflow," he says.
Ultimately, Care to Translate secures that the paramedics make the right decisions and do the right things.
"We can get information about allergies, the medicines the patient uses, if they have an infection, blood disease, or things that are difficult to understand otherwise but are critical for their care. Now we know for sure," says Mikael.
"Many patients who are learning the language are very eager to use it but then it becomes problematic when they don't understand the answers. It is also good for those situations," he continues.
Interpreters are used more in ERs, and even then, it's not so easy to find interpreters. "I think they could get great use of the app there too! Especially in reception, and the first meeting, and need to get a picture of what they are seeking medical attention for," says Mikael.