Dr. Audry Lim, Pediatrician and Medical Lead of Complex Care at Hamilton Health Sciences says, “without the ability to interpret properly…it really impedes the care we can provide. But, by pulling Voyce into the room, I can communicate with [patient] families in real-time without any translation issues.”
Accessing healthcare can be daunting, especially for non-English speaking patients. The fear of miscommunication magnifies the stress, and sometimes, the risk. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) – one of Ontario’s major healthcare organizations – serves a diverse community of 2.3 million, many of whom face this exact issue. With such diversity, the need to address language barriers in care was critical to ensure equity for all patients.
HHS’s previous interpreter solutions, which included in-person and traditional over-the-phone services, faced limitations in availability and speed of connection. Ted Scott, Chief Innovation Officer at HHS, emphasized the challenges patients faced when they couldn’t communicate in their native language during critical or emergency health services, “people are at their most vulnerable state when trying to access health services, and the inability to speak in their native tongue to clinicians is an incredibly challenging barrier.”
Recognizing these challenges, HHS worked with the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®) to find a partner that understood the emphasis HHS places on equitable communication in healthcare. Developed with a comprehensive understanding of language concordance in healthcare, Voyce was ready to support Hamilton Health Sciences with:
Before rolling out Voyce across the organization, HHS launched Voyce in select units, including the emergency department and both inpatient and outpatient units. This trial run was designed to identify and address any adoption barriers.
Feedback collected during the pilot was overwhelmingly positive from all users involved, and it identified no significant barriers.
Dr. Lim highlighted the real-time benefits of Voyce during the trial, which allowed for immediate communication without adoption barriers in these units, “[Voyce] really helps to reassure [families] and answer their questions immediately… [it] really helps to promote allyship and inclusivity for a lot of our families who don’t speak English.”
The Jomaa family has been under the care of HHS McMaster Children’s Hospital – an extension of Hamilton Health Sciences – for over a year. Their daughter, Aline, has been supported by a number of specialists including Dr. Tam, and was one of the first patients to be supported by the Voyce pilot.
Aline’s mother, Aisha, shared, “I know that with Aline’s condition, we need to come to the hospital a lot, so it’s very comfortable for me to have this service. Whatever I’m saying, I’m sure that it’s being relayed, no matter how I’m expressing it, in the same way. It feels like I’m the one who is speaking.”
This is one of many examples of the meaningful difference Hamilton Health Sciences saw in their care through partnering with Voyce.
Given the overwhelming positive feedback from patients, staff, and physicians, HHS extended the Voyce pilot without hesitation. Plans are in place not only to establish it as a standard service organization-wide but also to integrate it into HHS's research and education sectors. This aims to garner deeper insights into the needs of the non-English speaking community. Dr. Scott continues to say, “Voyce is game-changing.”
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