GeaCom team members accompanied Mayo Clinic medical students and physicians to rural Honduras to partake in a weeklong medical brigade from February 17-24, 2011. GeaCom staff used this opportunity to conduct a field trial of its new multilingual communication device, Phrazer. Phrazer is a handheld, interactive system that enables the collection and delivery of critical information between patients and caregivers, regardless of differences in language, culture or literacy. This was the first time Phrazer has been used by patients and clinicians in a medical setting.
The Mayo Clinic Medical Brigade spent four days treating patients in Mata de Plátano, a community in Francisco Morazán, Honduras. More than thirty patients participated in the Phrazer trial. Using a sequence of interactive video questions, Phrazers gathered critical information from patients including their primary concerns and symptoms. The devices then provided an English summary of the information to the clinicians who were treating the patients. Many of the physicians and students examining the patients had only a limited knowledge of Spanish, so a summary in English proved to be a valuable piece of information in assessing and treating the patients involved in the trial.
Megan Chock, a student at Mayo Medical School who worked in the brigade’s clinic, commented on her experience with the Phrazer system. “The Phrazer caregiver summary served as a useful tool for me to compare the information that I was getting from the patient with what she had reported to the triage station as her reason for arriving in the clinic,” she said.
Phrazer was also used as a supplement to the brigade’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) station. The aim of this portion of the brigade is to empower individuals, families and communities to prevent some of the more common illnesses found in rural Honduras. More than 50 children interacted with a Phrazer device by watching educational videos about personal hygiene, oral hygiene and/or basic first aid.
This brigade to Honduras was conducted through Global Medical Brigades, an organization whose mission is to provide sustained healthcare to underserved communities throughout the world. Medical Brigade volunteers set up medical clinics in pre-identified communities to provide healthcare where access is limited, with each community receiving a brigade every three-four months.
“It was a great opportunity for Global Brigades to be a part of piloting Phrazer,” said Brittany Estok, the Medical Brigades Coordinator in Honduras. “This device has great potential for the future in helping healthcare professionals obtain accurate information where language poses a barrier to communicating with patients.”
Global Brigades, Inc. is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. The organization focuses on countries where family members survive on less than $2 per day and where medical and economic needs are severely neglected and resources for basic services are low. For more information about Global Brigades, please visit www.globalbrigades.org.