EHRs work with MedLinePlus

Previously, we discussed the AMA’s complaints about Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Now, from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), comes more optimistic news about how they can be useful for patients.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 12.08.09 AMThe NLM’s MedlinePlus Connect links the diagnosis given on an EMR directly to MedlinePlus, instantly giving you details of what your condition is. However, the NLM does caution that in order to get the integrating system up and running you’ll “need to work with the technical representative or staff member who can add links to your EHR system.”

Fortunately, even without an EHR, you can easily use Medline Plus on a desktop computer or mobile device. It’s completely free and has information on a wide range of medical topics, including details on prescription medications and dietary supplements, as well as interactive tutorials and a medical dictionary. All of the information is written in lay language—and that includes, through external links—44 languages in addition to English. If you can understand professional level medical literature, you’ll also want to check out MEDLINE/PubMed, the NLM’s site for biomedical professionals, which offers free summaries of 22 million articles from 5000 biomedical journals, many (but not all) of which link to free full articles.

For those of you who like to know everything before you go under the knife, MedlinePlus also includes videos of surgical procedures. Um, we’ll just stick to picking out get well cards, thanks.


Automated Medical Translation

Translate-Your-World, which enables both automated (machine) translation and simultaneous human translation over the Web, has announced that it is now making medical translation available in 78 languages.

But let’s let them explain in their own words:

Translate Your World, developers of linguistic and mobile marketing technologies, announced today the release of its TYWI-Hospital, an online speech translation software specifically designed for hospitals, medical offices, caregivers, and institutions for the aged. This futuristic software mystically creates real-time voice translation as people speak, plus text translation in 78 languages, then further offers support for the hearing- and vision-impaired.

Er, we believe the “mysticism” consists of a fairly standard approach. As explained by David Bellos, Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton, the current way such translation is accomplished is a series of back-and-forth steps. First, using speech recognition, the human voice is translated into text, then the text is run through an automated translation program, which then may be spoken aloud by an automated text-to-speech program.

Undoubtedly, you’ve noticed such a process could yield several points of failure. Nevertheless, it surely beats trying to mime to a medical profession who doesn’t speak your language.