Bridging "language" gaps - connecting technological, medical, and social language
The main goal of our project is to succeed in shortening the path between data collection and receiving care and enabling fast and cost-effective communication between different medical communities. The ability to do this is based on the existence of a common language. But how do you do that when the project combines technological, medical, and social aspects?
The different languages of professional communities are based on the fact that they, and their partners, understand the context in which the discourse takes place - they all know the linguistic shortcuts and the special codes used in each and every language. Therefore, when people from the same field use language, orally or in writing, special problems usually do not arise. However, a discourse that combines different areas of practice can lead to problems of inaccuracy, ambiguity, and confusion. Which can be very problematic when it comes to talking about saving lives.
One of the most significant lessons we have learned in this project is to succeed in bridging the gaps in language - between the technological, medical, and social language. The difference between them is not only in their character but also in the way they explain reality.
The technological language - is a language designed to enable us to operate technological systems. It is a sharp and unambiguous language that requires a great deal of knowledge and that most people are unfamiliar with. It has clear and precise lines and connections that even those who know how to operate technology at the basic level may not understand.
The medical language - is also a very professional language. It allows quick access to complex information and connects many important factors together. This is a language that only professionals are proficient in and mistakes in understanding it can come at a high price.
The social language - is a very flexible language, it varies easily from place to place, full of metaphors and influences from different cultures. It consists of verbal gestures as opposed to physical and non-verbal gestures. It is more emotional and loaded with a lot of political weight - things that are acceptable and not acceptable to say.
Trying to bridge the gaps between them requires us first to look at the similarities that bind them together. One of the most interesting things to discover is that they all rely on traditions, norms, beliefs, and values that make them what they are.
To be able to operate and move forward safely in a project that connects these three aspects requires great care and emphasis on explanations and collaborations. We have learned that sometimes we need "translators", professionals who know how to speak the three different languages. For example, social sciences researchers who have an affinity for medical technology.
We know today that mutual understanding is the key. We are constantly thinking of new connections and new ways of listening to nuances that can allow us to better understand each other. We are constantly looking for our linguistic blind spots, and seek to find solutions to problems that may arise in the communication that takes place between us.
ICU4COVID aims to be a bridge through which technological, medical, and social language connect. They all have a great influence on each other and the ability to successfully weave them together depends on patience, understanding, and willingness to learn. To know more about what connects us than about what separates us.
More lessons we learned
Lessons Learned from a Social Science Perspective #7
Building the Social Infrastructures for
Telemedicine Takes Time
one of three lessons written by our partners
at the University of Vienna