The importance of effective doctor-patient communication in an emergency or hospital medicine situation cannot be overstated. As SCP Chief Medical Officer Jeffrey A. Schwartz, MD, FACEP, explained, “A lack of clear communication could lead to further clinical consequences.” That’s where mobile apps can be of immense help. Dr. Schwartz helped us identify the following six mobile apps that focused on providing clearer physician/patient communication.

The first three provide translation capabilities, which is particularly useful when addressing non-English speaking patients. The remaining three use images to communicate, enabling the patient to understand better the nature of their condition and its location in the body.

1. Canopy Speak

Approximately 30 million patients have limited English proficiency, and nowhere is the language barrier more critical than in the emergency department setting.

Canopy Speak, a free translation app that contains a library of thousands of medical phrases, is designed to overcome that dilemma.

Providers can communicate quickly with patients using translated medical phrases in Spanish, Chinese, French, Arabic, Russian, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and more. It shows phrases with written translations and can play them with audio. When needed, providers can call live medical interpreters for free with a one-button tap.

Users can also link to the hospital's current telephone interpreter (assuming one is available) by selecting the hospital name from a list.

Available: iOS | Android     Price: Free


2. MediBabble Translator

MediBabble is a free, professional-grade medical interpretation app for health care providers designed to improve the safety, efficiency, and quality of care for non-English speaking patients.

The app currently downloads with Spanish included. Additional languages — French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian, German, and Haitian Creole — are available as free downloads from within the application. Once downloaded, languages do not require Internet access.

MediBabble features:

  • Thousands of translated questions and instructions all playable as high-quality audio recordings;
  • Organization by symptom to facilitate comprehensive or targeted medical history taking;
  • The thorough physical exam section contains phrases used to prepare, position, and educate patients during an exam.

Available: iOS    Price: Free


3. Google Translate

Users can translate text in more than 100 languages--52 without needing to access the Internet.

Google Translate features include:

  • Instant camera translation - use a camera to translate text instantly in 29 languages;
  • Conversational mode - two-way speech translation;
  • Camera mode - take pictures of text for higher-quality translations in 37 languages.

Available: iOS | Android    Price: Free


4. VisualDX

We have talked about VisualDX in a previous mobile app post, outlining its features and benefits.

To recap, the app captures the variation disease presentation by age, skin type, body location, and severity and combines that with high-resolution images confirmed by leading physician experts.

In communication, providers can use the images in VisualDX to educate patients on the spot.

Available: iOS | Android

Price: Clinical packages cost $400 per year. The app is free to SCP providers through the Provider Portal.


5. Neuro Localizer HD

Also, a visual means of communication, Neuro Localizer opens with a picture of a gingerbread man, which, admittedly, can be somewhat unnerving, masking the actual detail and power of the app.

Users can tap on a particular part of the man to bring up a list of signs and symptoms. Entering more specific detail about the deficit on the submenus helps identify the exact pathway.

Price: Free


6. Visual Anatomy Lite

Visual Anatomy Lite is an interactive anatomy reference and education tool containing 130 high-resolution images with 3D rotational models, Gray's anatomy images add-on, a muscle highlighting tool, and full descriptions. It supports English, French, Spanish, and German languages.

The app is used primarily as a learning tool for physicians but can be employed with patients to help educate or explain conditions, ailments, and injuries.

Features include:

  • Rotational models (views from different angles);
  • Muscle description (ORIGIN, INSERTION, NERVE, ACTIONS);
  • Tap and Pinch Zoom - zoom into and identify any region, bone, or other feature;
  • Muscle highlighting tool to visualize the individual muscle.

Available: iOS | Android

Price: Free


Facilitating effective doctor-patient communication is a key component of improving patient experience. Leave a positive impression on your patient by following these five tried-and-proven recommendations. 

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