Medical translation tool in Armenian and Arabic released in Canada for Syrian refugees

Photo: Mark Blinch/Reuters


Secure online tool reduces language barriers for refugees receiving healthcare, collecting a full patient history and PHQ-9 mental health screening in Arabic or Armenian, with responses automatically translated to English.

PRWeb – With over 25,000 Syrian refugees recently arrived in Canada, a significant need for primary care healthcare services is expected in the coming weeks and months. Physicians and front-line healthcare workers across the country are beginning to assess and treat a range of physical, emotional and mental health needs for this wave of refugees. However, providing appropriate care to non-English-speaking refugees can involve significant challenges, particularly with limited translation support available.

To help address this, a free, secure online tool has been developed to allow patients to complete a full history and mental health screening in Arabic or Armenian, with the results automatically translated to English for the clinician to review and add to the patient record. Collecting this information in the patient’s first language can help ensure a more complete and accurate history is collected, while also increasing the likelihood of sharing sensitive issues.

The Syrian Refugee Medical Intake tool was developed as part of Cognisant Causes, a charitable program run by CognisantMD that provides resources – in the form of project-based technology and marketing support – to non-profit healthcare organizations at no cost. The PHQ-9 for mental health screening has also been made available in Arabic with automatic translation to English, and additional clinical screening tools are planned for the future.

“As a family physician, I’ve experienced first hand how a language barrier can create stress and time pressure for both the patient and the clinician,” said Dr. Doug Kavanagh, a family physician at the North York Family Health Team and the Co-Founder of CognisantMD. “Together with the assistance of my Arabic and Armenian-speaking colleagues, we’ve created a tool that can help family doctors like myself to communicate with refugee families and connect them with the care they need.”

The forms are accessed through a web browser that allows patients to respond to questions online. All responses are encrypted before being sent to the Ocean Portal where a translated clinical note is generated which can be copied and pasted into the patient record. To ensure patient health information is kept secure, data is kept encrypted both in transmission and in storage.

There is no fee for patients to complete the forms, or for clinicians to review, copy and paste the results. Clinics using the Ocean Platform can also access the forms from the Ocean Library and present them on a patient tablets or send them as secure emailed links to allow patients to complete before their appointment.

Dr. Faisal Al-Sani, Dr. Nour Khatib, Mrs. Salpi Der Ghazarian, Dr. Ani Hasserjian and Mrs. Seza Nazarian of Armenian Family Support Services, Holy Trinity Armenian Church have assisted with translations.

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