Indianapolis-Based Cultural Competency Company DuoChart Partners with UPenn’s Global Health Program

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Faced with the startling statistic that patients with limited English proficiency are almost twice as likely to suffer adverse events in U.S. hospitals, resulting in temporary harm or death, Indianapolis-based cultural competency expert Carmen Hansen Rivera launched DuoChart in 2007.

In Botswana, we’ve created a long-lasting solution to a communications challenge for these medical students who are working to stem the pandemic of HIV-AIDS in Africa.

DuoChart, a language access tool utilizing simple visual references and medical terminology, recently teamed with the Global Health Programs at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Botswana Medical School, Biomedical Library and Linguistics Department, to create a translation tool for medical students working in Botswana. The smartphone medical translation app was developed for health care workers needing to communicate with the Setswana-speaking population.

When Ryan Littman-Quinn, director of the Botswana-UPenn’s Mobile Health Informatics program, learned DuoChart’s Spanish app was used in hospitals and clinics throughout the country, he was struck by its innovation and practicality, “Especially in global health settings where doctors, staff and patients don't always speak the same language.” DuoChart was engaged to develop the English-Setswana app.

“The team (which included faculty and students from the BUP partnership) really did a fantastic job customizing the English-Setswana content,” Littman-Quinn notes. “In fact, DuoChart is one of the apps we preloaded onto 170 tablets we customized as a part of BUP’s capacity-building projects for UB medical students and faculty rotating in rural areas.
“It has been very well received,” says Littman-Quinn, “Since the University of Botswana students are taught medicine in English and weren't necessarily aware of all of the Setswana terms and phrases that can be used for communicating with patients.”

Faced with the startling statistic that patients with limited English proficiency are almost twice as likely to suffer adverse events in U.S. hospitals, resulting in temporary harm or death, Indianapolis-based cultural competency expert Carmen Hansen Rivera launched DuoChart in 2007. It has been used in 36 states by school-based health clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, primary care clinics, universities, community colleges, nursing programs, athletic departments, and even towing companies.

“In its use in this country, DuoChart provides a way to triage patients quickly and begin treatment,” says Hansen-Rivera. “In Botswana, we’ve created a long-lasting solution to a communications challenge for these medical students who are working to stem the pandemic of HIV-AIDS in Africa.”

According to census data, more than 47 million people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home, and nearly 23 million are considered limited English proficient (LEP). Overall, more than 176 different languages and dialects are spoken across the country. In addition to the Setswana app, DuoChart is available in English/Spanish, English/Mandarin and English/Japanese; Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, Burmese and French translation programs are in development.

About DuoChart

DuoChart is a bilingual medical reference tool designed to assist health care professionals in a first responder or emergency situation with limited-English-speaking patients. DuoChart was created in response to the needs expressed by cultural competency training participants in rural areas who experienced difficulty in identifying or retaining bilingual interpreters. Created by cultural competency expert Carmen Hansen Rivera, DuoCharts provide simple, visual and audio references that work as a support system for traditional interpretation services that may not be readily available in a triage situation. Android or iPhone users can quickly find the DuoChart mobile medical translation applications by searching for “duochart” in their phones’ marketplace.

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Patricia Pickett
DuoChart
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