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Doc APProvED: It's No Babel Fish, but Canopy App Comes Close

Mohseni, Alex MD

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doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000450854.15593.aa

    Ever since reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, I've wanted a babel fish, the “oddest thing in the universe,” a fish you put into your ear to act as a universal translator. Enter the next best thing, Canopy, currently an iOS-only app that was unveiled at the American College of Emergency Physicians' last innovatED event.

    Canopy has specialty-specific phrases that are commonly used in daily practice with written and audible translations into eight of the most common languages used in the United States, with more languages coming. Phrases are organized by category, “Greeting and Goodbye,” “History,” and “Reassessment,” for example, with summary titles that make them easy to find.

    Canopy also can dial a live translator directly through your hospital's translation vendor (if the hospital has registered with Canopy). Why then, you might ask, would you need Canopy? This is where Canopy really shines. Do you really want to dial in each time you just want to communicate a simple thing to the patient such as “Please change into your gown,” “Sorry for the delay,” “We are waiting on your imaging studies.” Sure, you should use a human translator when you want to get a detailed history or discuss results and the discharge plan. But Canopy is really useful for all those in-between moments when you should be updating the patient but aren't because of the hassle of the translator phone.

    Canopy has free and paid versions, and it comes highly recommended — although it is no babel fish.

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