Overcoming language and communication barriers in the healthcare sector

May 11th, 2015 by

Good communication is required in every industry but in the healthcare sector it can literally make the difference between life and death. Increased mobility and demographic change mean that more and more healthcare situations involve people who do not share a common language or cultural background.  Alcantara Communications is involved in an international project designed to bridge these language and cultural gaps.

The VOCAL-Medical project is producing training materials and a tool to support communication in emergency situations where there is no common language and/or a need to bridge cultural gaps between different healthcare systems.

Needs analysis conducted by VOCAL-Medical partners showed that the situations where help to overcome communication barriers is most needed are:

  • Asking patients about their medical history
  • Communication about medication
  • Understanding patients’ emotional state
  • Communication about cultural and religious concerns

Language training materials and a translation support application have been designed to be used by:

  • Hospital emergency services
  • Ambulance services and fast rescue teams
  • Doctors on standby

Materials are at the development stage and can be viewed at

Please help us pass this information on to anyone who might find the materials useful, and let us have your feedback.

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