Phrazer handheld communicator aims to break through the healthcare language barrier
By Paul Ridden
February 23, 2011
With over 170 languages spoken in the U.S. alone, medical personnel attending an emergency or working in a busy hospital are no doubt often faced with communication problems when trying to dispense treatment. The Phrazer offers a possible solution to this problem. It is billed as the world's first multilingual communication system, where patients provide medical background information, symptoms or complaints with the help of a virtual onscreen doctor speaking in their own native tongue. This information is then summarized into a medical record compatible with all major EMR systems.
When medical workers are faced with a patient who speaks a non-native language, there is a strong possibility that a significant amount of time is wasted trying to obtain information vital for effective treatment. Poor translation can lead to misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment. A Phrazer unit can hold over 300 languages at any one time and, after it identifies the patient's native tongue, gathers the necessary background information using pre-recorded videos of doctors speaking in the patient's own language.
The 12.6 x 5.35 x 0.6-inch (322 x 136 x 17.2 mm) handheld device has a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen display, where the patient can interact with the onscreen activity to help practitioners quickly gather vital information. Audio is fed into the system's 64Gb, 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage (with an additional 8GB of NAND Flash) via a 128kHz microphone, while photo and video information can be recorded via a 3 megapixel camera.
When enough information has been gathered, the specially developed Phrazer operating software then compiles a medical record, which can be fed into an EMR system via Bluetooth or USB. Each 1.49 pound (0.68kg) Phrazer also benefits from built-in GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G functionality, and is powered by a DM3730 1GHz processor supported by 4GB of LPDRAM memory.
Scripts can be customized to suit an organization's individual language needs, and the translation is claimed to be almost 100 percent accurate. The device runs on two internal batteries which are said to offer 22 hours of use between charges, but the unit can also use a couple of hot-swappable external batteries which could extend that operation indefinitely.
GeoCom's Cassandra Bachtell told Gizmag that the Phrazer is due for a Q3 release and "will retail between US$12,000 and US$18,000."