How to communicate without words: Empowering postoperative care through technology

This blog is based on a study from Luleå Technical University titled "Communicating without words: Strategies of specialized nurses in caring for postoperative patients with languages other than Swedish or English" written by Sara Gullstén and Simon Lundberg.

Imagine being in a hospital. You’re not quite understanding what the nurse is saying because you speak a different language. The unfamiliarity of medical jargon, coupled with the vulnerability of a healthcare setting, can be an overwhelming experience.

5 strategies for patient communication

In healthcare, clear communication is crucial. For postoperative nurses dealing with patients speaking different languages, it's a challenge. 

So, how can we improve something as important as patient communication, and maybe also use tech solutions for safer and inclusive care? A study from Luleå Technical University addresses 5 strategies.

1. Non-verbal nuances and vocal harmony

Specialized nurses primarily rely on body language and voice to establish a secure care environment for patients with diverse native languages. This approach aligns seamlessly with prior research, underscoring the universal efficacy of employing non-verbal cues and intonation to foster trust and mutual understanding.

2. Technological tools: A safe path

A notable aspect of the study is the exploration of technical tools, such as apps and internet translations. Despite reservations about their reliability, these tools catalyze a dialogue on the potential of secure technology, like our product at Care to Translate, to aid healthcare in communicating with multilingual patients. 

Our solution has already demonstrated significant success in postoperative settings. Providing a safe and effective means to bridge language barriers and facilitate smoother healthcare processes. 

3. Collaboration and involvement of relatives

The study emphasizes the importance of collaboration with relatives and other staff to ensure that basic information reaches the patient. While effective for fundamental communication, concerns emerge when it comes to the accurate translation of medical information. Here, technology emerges as an important player by offering reliable translation tools.

4. Interpreter services: A constrained resource

A surprising revelation surfaces regarding the limited use of professional interpreters in postoperative units. Despite legal mandates and guidelines, nurses exhibit hesitancy toward this method, prompting a discourse on enhancing the accessibility and efficiency of interpreter services.

5. Preparation through timely information

Comparisons with other studies underscore the importance of early information about a patient's language needs to facilitate care preparations. This accentuates the necessity for procedural changes and systems that furnish healthcare professionals with essential information in advance.

Technology's role in the future of healthcare

At Care to Translate, we are eager to witness the role technological solutions can play in enhancing communication within healthcare. By providing secure and reliable translation and communication tools, we aim to cultivate a more inclusive and secure healthcare environment for all patients.

Our commitment lies in exploring and developing technological innovations that support healthcare in overcoming language barriers. Through collaborative efforts with healthcare providers, understanding their needs, we aspire to create a future where no patient feels hindered by language when seeking care.

Communication remains the key, and through the embrace of technological solutions, we envision a healthcare environment where every patient feels understood and deserving of optimal care. Let's collectively build a future where healthcare speaks every language, and no patient feels beyond reach.

Source: Luleå tekniska universitet, Institutionen för hälsovetenskap
Examensarbete, "Att kommunicera utan ord: Specialistsjuksköterskors strategier för att omhänderta postoperativa patienter med annat språk än svenska eller engelska"
Authors: Sara Gullstén & Simon Lundberg