What is Patchs Translate?

Dr Ben Brown
Dr Ben Brown
  • Updated

NHS guidance recommends using a human translation service when consulting with patients who do not speak English fluently. They advise against using automated translation services such as Google Translate.

However, we know that some GP practices find it difficult to follow this guidance, particularly in online consultations.

We also know from research published on Patchs that patients will often use free online translation services themselves anyway, when submitting their requests online.

We have therefore made Patchs Translate available for GP practices that want to use it. This is to make language translation more efficient, and to provide information security, privacy, and audit trails.

To our knowledge, no other consultation system currently provides a translation functionality.

How Patchs Translate improves access to healthcare

Online consultations have provided many benefits, but there are also concerns that they have exacerbated inequalities, such as for patients that speak English as a second language.
Without Patchs Translate, the only options are to either use a human translator - which is slow and expensive, and removes any benefit of using an online consultation system - or to use another online translation system, which is not integrated with Patchs and not saved to the clinical record, has not been assessed for accuracy or safety, cannot provide an audit trail, and may not comply with privacy or security legislation.


How to use Patchs Translate

If you have Patchs Translate turned on at your practice, patients can choose what language they see displayed in Patchs from a dropdown menu:


When a patient chooses a non-English language, all the text in Patchs is translated. They are advised to contact the practice by telephone and use a human translator if they have concerns about the accuracy of the translation.

You can read more about how patients use Patchs Translate in this help article.

When they come through to your practice, requests written in a non-English language are easy to identify in your inbox by the grey language icon:


When you open up the request, it is shown in the patients' chosen language with an orange warning. To translate to English, click the 'Translate to English' link:


The request is then shown in English with a further warning: 'accuracy cannot be guaranteed - if any concerns, please phone the patient and/or use a human translator.'

This is similar to what the patient sees when they select a non-English language:


You can then reply to the patient in English.
When the patient receives the message, they can select to display the message in their chosen language again:
Patchs Translate is also available when you initiate messages to patients.

What is the clinical risk of using Patchs Translate?

All the translations of fixed text within Patchs have been checked for accuracy by a professional human translation service.
By fixed text, we mean text in Patchs that is not written by patients or GP practice staff ,and always stays the same - e.g. safety warnings at the beginning and end of the consultation process. Understandably we cannot check the accuracy of translations of text written by GP practice staff or patients.
Translations are provided by Amazon Translate and are meant to facilitate communication between patients and GP practices, not replace it. 
Because this is a third party, we cannot take responsibility for its accuracy nor indemnify its use - so Patchs Translate should be used at your own risk. Please see the End User License Agreement section 4.3 for more information.
If you have any concerns about the accuracy of the translation that Patchs provides, please contact the patient directly and/or use a human translation service.

What languages are provided?


How are spelling mistakes handled?

Patchs Translate has been built using machine learning, not preprogrammed rules, so it has learned over time how to correctly translate commonly misspelled words.







Was this article helpful?