The Universal Language of Health

The health education of non-English speakers is an enormous California-wide challenge, where roughly 40 percent of all Californians do not speak English at home. To address this opportunity, CITRIS remote-care researchers have developed a project that will use multi-lingual search, speech interfaces, and health dialogs on the Internet. Other projects include the use of cell phones to deliver culturally and linguistically validated health education material, published in collaboration with Hesperian Press.  Also, researchers will enable clinicians and health care workers to provide follow-up services to patients through multi-lingual on-line surveys, questionnaires, and time-sensitive updates (outbreaks, warnings).  The Web project could easily be incorporated into kiosks in rural and underserved clinics, while cell phones would provide access for difficult-to-reach groups, such as farm workers, offering broad reach and easy replication.


By collaborating with the Central Valley Partnership for Citizenship, CITRIS scientists John Canny and Srini Narayan will first target

Central Valley

Spanish-speakers, including immigrant, high risk, rural poor, and indigent populations.  These targeted groups face enormous challenges:  70 percent lack health insurance; 50 percent have multiple health problems; 40 percent have never seen a physician in their lives; and only 15 percent are literate in any language.  To prove the extensibility of the work, the researchers will also develop and provide Web services for Mandarin Chinese, in addition to work currently being developed in Tamil.


Next Steps:

By working with corporate and foundation partners to extend work for Spanish and Mandarin materials, CITRIS researchers will work with programs through the California Telemedicine and E-Health Center (CTEC) as well as disseminating this work through programs such as Telemedicine Learning Centers, networks of rural and underserved programs, and special events.