Okinawa to open multi-language medical call center

As the demand for medical emergency care for foreign tourists is increasing, Okinawa Prefecture Department of Culture, Tourism & Sports is opening a “Multilanguage Service Emergency Medical Care Call Center” to support medical interpreting needs. The call center will open within fiscal 2016.

The center would provide interpreting services to support communication between foreigners and staff at emergency and tourist facilities. First, an experimental operation of the call center will run for two months starting in February or March in order to analyze the needs. During the experiment phase, the service will be operated 24 hours a day for 2 months in English, Chinese, and Korean.

With the increase in the number of foreign tourists, the medical emergency cases have increased. However, there is a shortage of staff that can interpret medical terms on site.

The service and management of the project will be outsourced to the private sector. Prefecture officials are currently calling for project proposals from private operators who must have multi-language call service experience in tourism industry.

After the initial two-month period, the government will judge whether the call center project would be continued based on the experience. During the experimental period, the government will manage the call center, and also study in detail about the emergency medical care needs with an eye on developing the service to match the needs of tourism in the future.

aj