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Communication challenges: App not cure-all

The Straits Times | Monday, Aug 4, 2014

Patients waiting outside the consultation rooms at the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department at Changi General Hospital (CGH).

Changi General Hospital (CGH) recently introduced the ingenious Integrated Healthcare Communicator app to aid nurses in their daily interactions with elderly patients ("Hospital app that 'speaks' in dialect"; last Saturday). It contains 100 Cantonese translations of phrases commonly used in a hospital setting.

While it is certainly an innovative idea and a step in the right direction, it is not a panacea for all problems encountered in daily conversations with elderly patients.

Communication is a two-way process. Doctors and nurses may succeed in putting across the "translated" messages to the patients, but there will be instances when the patients wish to seek clarifications from the hospital staff. How does CGH intend to address this issue?

Hospitals cannot totally rely on technology. The presence of staff who are skilled in the various Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil is still required.

Teo Kok Seah

This article was first published on August 2, 2014.
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