Designing for Deaf Patients in the Healthcare Environment
In order to provide compassionate patient care and elevate patient experience, hospitals in the U.S. have been making unremitting efforts to ensure access to quality health services and expanding access for underserved populations within the country. However, with fundamentally different communication skills - namely written versus oral communication – and different levels of reading comprehension, medical professionals face a difficult time when it comes to treating a deaf patient. Thus this neglected segment of the population relies heavily on third party interpretation in their medical encounters. The foremost factors contributing to physician hesitancy to interact with deaf patients are as follows: difficulty of understanding each group, fear of assuming full responsibility of misinformation; lack of confidence in the efficiency of communication; and anxiety of misdiagnosis and mistreatment. These factors along with the inability to create emotional and social interactions between both groups, hinders the efforts of connecting with deaf patients without the presence of an interpreter. In addressing this particular issue, our team created a service that facilitates the interaction between deaf patients and medical professionals before an interpreter arrives, which enable hospitals to continuously provide quality, value driven healthcare to all they serve. Despite the possible associated risks and costs, the service generates benefits for deaf patients, medical professionals and hospital systems by facilitating interaction and increasing satisfaction and through time savings for all three groups.