Smartphone app translates illness symptoms in 22 languages

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Smartphone app translates illness symptoms in 22 languages
Researchers at Gunma University Hospital have worked out a smartphone application for producing a medical interview sheet for presentation to a doctor in up to 22 languages, based on replies to a multilingual questionnaire on the user's bio-data, symptoms and illness history.

The free app "Health Life Passport" has been developed for those preparing for doctor visits in foreign countries, such as foreign nationals in Japan not confident about expressing symptoms in Japanese as well as Japanese visiting hospitals overseas, they said.

Since the app was released in July, it has been downloaded in more than 40 countries, they said. It can be used in areas with no cellphone signals once downloaded, they added.

The iPhone version is capable of handling 22 languages, while the one for Android phones uses 10 languages, they said.

To operate the app, users first select a section of the body, such as the head, where they are experiencing symptoms.

Once selected, the program will display a list of related questions, such as the degree and frequency of symptoms.

As users answer questions, the app automatically compiles a ready-to-present survey sheet for doctors with translations. Users can also include their current medications and past medical history.

The team is financing the program through revenues from ads on the screen, they said.

"When people are overseas, their medical symptoms sometimes get worse as they hesitate to go to hospital due to the language barrier," said Kiyomi Takizawa, one of the staff who developed the program. "We want people to take advantage of the app as it can be used in pharmacies and in times of a disaster," Takizawa said.

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