improving access to healthcare for immigrants
This summer, I was invited to create an app prototype for social good at Apple’s Creative Studios in New York City.
In 2012, my family immigrated to the US from South Korea, being the first in our extended family to do so. While my sister and I quickly acclimated to life in America, the transition was more challenging for my mom who struggled to learn English.
Over the past decade, my mom has found a vibrant Korean community in northern New Jersey and along with it, a network of Korean doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents whom she can speak to directly.
why this matters
More than 1 million immigrants arrive in the US every year. Additionally, of the 37 million adults in the US who speak a language other than English, 48 percent reported that they have limited proficiency in English.1 Effective communication is especially important when it comes to healthcare.
“… several studies have shown that patients who face language barriers have poorer health outcomes compared with patients who speak the local language.”Implications of Language Barriers for Healthcare: A Systematic Review.
Among those who needed an interpreter during a helath care visit, less than half (48 percent) report that they always or usually had one. Even in the absence of language barriers, racial disparaties were observed in quality of patient-physician interactions, which is lower for non-White patients, particularly Latinos and Asian Ameircans.2
“Compared to other minority groups, Asian Americans are least likely to feel that their doctor understood their background and values and are most likely to report that their doctor looked down on them.”Diverse communities, common concerns: Assessing health care quality for minority Americans.
existing resources and the gap
- Only supports English
- Very limited set of Korean providers
- Only available on the web
- Clunky UI that’s confusing to navigate
- Unable to filter by speciality and region
I plan on learning Swift to build the app and launch it in the App Store. I will share the app with the Korean community in the greater New York City area by word-of-mouth and on heykorean.com, a popular information exchanging website for Koreans living abroad.
After the launch of K-doc, I hope to expand the areas of service to include law, banking, and more as well as the languages offered to support Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog.
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