Sahra Noor: While technology can be useful for connecting immigrants with health care and health care campaigns, there are barriers to access. Need to consider cultural competence issues, of course, and literacy rates in local immigrant populations. For some, videos can help communicate important information. Their studies found that Latino immigrants use smart phones to access the internet, so health care providers now can devise more effective ways of communicating with them. The small group discussion begins:
Amy: each immigrant group that comes to the US has different experiences with technology, so their work involves finding out about the specificities.
Sahra: interpreters become part of the health care team, a bridge between technical experts (doctors and nurses), the patient, and others. An interesting and useful perspective...especially since our medical system privileges the technical expertise of doctors.
Amy: we take into consideration remedies people use on their own, by learning more about culturally specific remedies, and by informing people about interactions between the medications patients are prescribed and remedies they might use on their own.
Sahra: It's important to emphasize the social, and not just the medical. For example, during a recent measles outbreak we went to the West Bank and organized forums where people could learn more and talk with each other.
Question: use of visual information for communicating? In a project I was involved in, we developed communication that used only symbols. Sahra: some of the materials we developed were not necessarily multicultural, but did emphasize visual images, symbols. For people with language barriers we created videos that were posted on a portal.
Amy: we have a color coding system to make our directions even more clear. For example, we can direct people to a blue door or a yellow door.
Question: What about translation issues, for example, what if the translator mistranslates to avoid conflict? Sahra: we follow the four steps of translation, a review process. We had to outsource this for legal protection. There are still translation issues. But, what I find most difficult is that as health care providers we make things much more complicated, which renders the translation useless. Amy: we really need qualified interpreters. The family member as a translator can have disastrous results, especially when the patient needs to discuss private matters. Sahra: Being bilingual and being an interpreter are two different things. One is knowing two languages, but to translate you need a different set of skills.