The familiar proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” means that difficult situations or problems often inspire creative solutions. This was the case for Dr. Charles Lee, president and founder of Polyglot Systems, Inc., which creates technology solutions for language access in health care.
Dr. Lee, who moved to the United States from Korea at age 7, saw that his grandmother’s pill bottles had instructions written in English that she was unable to read. He saw how frustrated she became and recognized that this must be a common occurrence for those with limited English proficiency. “To me it’s just common sense,” said Dr. Lee, a board certified internal medicine physician. “If patients have difficulty understanding the English language, how are they expected to follow instructions if they cannot read or understand the instructions? How many medication errors are caused by language barriers?”
Through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (STTR), a unique federal program that provides the opportunity for entrepreneurs to research and develop their innovative ideas and bring them to the commercial market, Dr. Lee’s firm received a grant to develop Meducation®. It is a web-based software service that allows healthcare providers and pharmacists to generate medication instructions and educational materials, such as visual medical demonstrations, in 18 languages and easy-to-read formats. Approximately 38 customers use this product, including hospitals, health centers, retail pharmacies and clinicians, and it is available at more than 1,200 locations.
Two studies from health facilities that use Meducation® demonstrated dramatic improvements in patient satisfaction and adherence to their medication when simpler instructions written in the patient’s preferred language were provided.
Population of focus: Limited English Proficiency patients in a hospital or clinic
Links to resource:
- Description of Meducation®
- Read the data sheet on Meducation®
- Read the description of the software on The Health Disparities Pulse.
Organization: Polyglot Systems, Inc.