Mar 16, 2022

I School Researchers Are Using ML and AI to Explore Improvements in Medical Translation


Doctors often turn to Google Translate to talk to patients. They want a better option

By Katie Palmer

The patient had just undergone a cesarean section, and now was struggling to put words to her pain in her native Taiwanese. The physician making rounds, Natasha Mehandru, was used to communicating with patients who didn’t speak English as a first language at her county hospital in Phoenix. But this time, calling in an interpreter by phone wasn’t working...

“Obviously, Google Translate wasn’t built for health care applications,” said Nikita Mehandru, a Ph.D. student in clinical artificial intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley and the sister of Natasha. “Maybe something should be.”

Along with fellow student Samantha Robertson and human-computer interaction researcher Niloufar Salehi, Mehandru recently surveyed 20 health care providers about their interpretation and translation resources, aiming to understand the scope of communication challenges before trying to design something like a Google Translate for doctors — starting with the written instructions emergency doctors give patients when they’re discharged...


Nikita Mehandru is a Ph.D. student at the School of Information. Niloufar Salehi is an assistant professor at the School of Information. 

Last updated:

March 17, 2022