Its National Diabetes Month – Knowledge Can Be So Powerful

As I write this week’s post, its’ tempting to jump into the passionate discussion (or shall I more aptly say fray?) about the healthcare marketplace website(s) functionality, or lack thereof, consuming the country. As the accusations fly and everyone scurries to put fixes in place, I hope we can all keep the ultimate end goal in mind and focus on the intent of reform – improving population health!

With that in mind, I am going to take time this week to remind everyone about an epidemic condition – diabetes – that we can positively affect though education, lifestyle changes and proper medical care. Combating diabetes is a serious public health issue. The statistics are alarming and astound me no matter how many times I see them:

– More than 340 million people worldwide have diabetes
– Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes
– Its’ the seventh leading cause of death in this country
– Another 79 million adults are estimated to have prediabetes
– Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke
– Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations not     caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults in the US
– The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion

Whether or not we are healthcare professionals, we can all do our part to part to raise awareness this month. And as healthcare professionals, we can take that a step further by ensuring the limited English proficiency patients we serve have access to educational materials in the native languages that are most meaningful to them.

Click here to learn how one local hospital supported their LEP communities by developing a multilingual diabetes education program.


Is having patience truly a virtue when it comes to healthcare reform?

patienceI wrote a blog in early October and at the time of my writing, I was really wondering what the future would be like for the federal and state healthcare exchanges. I never fathomed that there would be so many problems and that our national leaders would be immersed in so much debate and scrutiny because of the technological challenges the websites were having. It reminds me of my time with another employer at the end of 1999, the verge of the new millennium in an electronic age. Remember when the sky was going to fall and everything that was plugged in was going to blow up or at least reset itself when the calendar switched to 01/01/01?

Thankfully Y2K came and went and nothing really happened. Millions of dollars were spent in preparation of potential failures but outside the monetary loss, nothing happened. That was 13 years ago. Now we need to get these healthcare exchange sites fully operational for traffic and commerce. The deadline for enrolling for healthcare is December 15th. The state sites are getting by a little better than the federal site but all of this is one big ugly mess. So why are the sites having so much difficulty considering they have had three years to test and QA? Glitches, problems, system failures…these are all dreadful words we hate to tell our customers when our technology isn’t working. Americans are depending on this.

At VIA, we translate websites all the time. We deal with tight deadlines everyday and 99% of the time we do not disappoint. We work with the technological teams and do thorough testing to make sure it works in all the languages that have been localized. Personally, I’m having hard time empathizing. I think the sites had enough time to be ready.

I read that the California site had 100,000 enrollments. Oregon enrolled 50,000 and New York 30,000. So it’s not all doom and gloom.

I really hope they can get their websites functioning easily in the next few weeks and before the New Year. I don’t have the patience to see America’s new healthcare plan for everyone suffer like this.

One more reason your content marketing might be an epic fail

I came across an article titled “5 Reasons Your Content Marketing May Be an Epic Fail” that Katrina Denk posted in the Healthcare Marketing group I’m a member of on LinkedIn and thought it made some good points. Content marketing is all the rage these days, but there’s definitely a line between good content marketing and not so good content marketing.

To Katrina’s point, it’s important to make sure your content delivery and style are not “holding back its full potential.”  To wit, I would contend there is one more reason your content might be failing… it’s not in the right language.

Nearly 55 million people — about one in five U.S. residents — speak a language other than English at home. This is especially important for healthcare marketers because almost half of limited English proficient (LEP) population reported low health literacy, which may carry greater health risks according to NCBI.

For these people, bridging the language gap is essential to accessing healthcare. We’ve tried to take the uncertainty out of addressing language access challenges for written and web-based communications for you in our guide Beyond Translation: Best Practices for Healthcare.

Culture is Key to Effective Healthcare Translation

Communication gaffes can have a real impact on your organization’s reputation. In the healthcare industry, they can also be potentially dangerous. So you must be exacting when producing translated materials for your multilingual audiences. Anything less can be costly.

The first question to ask is whether you need to simply translate the materials, or if transcreation is more appropriate. While everyone is surely familiar with how translation works, transcreation might be a new term for some. Here’s a quick primer:

Transcreation combines the creative writing and marketing translation processes to adapt translated content to be more culturally relevant to your audience, making the communication both more meaningful and more effective. In order to reach your audience at an emotional and intellectual level, you must really understand the specific culture to which you are communicating, such as their country of origin and maybe even their region as well. Transcreation might be the preferred strategy when dealing with creative pieces that need to connect with your audience on a cultural level, such as health promotion materials or community programs.

In general, translation is the recommended strategy when the materials to be addressed must adhere to specific product or service requirements, such as with forms, guides, or other documents with little creative content. It is also typically the most cost-effective solution as it allows you to maximize your translation memory savings.

While both translation and transcreation play an important role in your multilingual communications, the right translation partner can help you understand the protocols and taboos for effectively communicating with all your healthcare communities. Click here to learn more about Transcreation.


Announcing VIA’s 2013 Translation Grant Program Winners

This is one of my favorite times each year. Not only because of the spectacular fall weather, but because I get the honor of announcing this year’s grant winners. Our Annual Translation Grant Program awards $1,500 of in-kind translation services to two separate organizations that share our philosophy of improving healthcare access for limited English proficiency communities.

We received a record number of applications this year from organizations across the country – all doing incredible work in their communities.  It was extremely difficult to narrow the selection down to the following two winners:

Lutheran HealthCare, Brooklyn, New York
Lutheran HealthCare serves a diverse, largely non-English speaking, immigrant community in Southwest Brooklyn. As a result of the growth in immigrant seniors in the community, they are working on a new website that includes a wide variety of information for seniors which they will translate into several different languages.

North East Medical Services, San Francisco, California
North East Medical Services is one of the largest community Health Centers in the United States servicing the medically underserved Asian population. They are currently working on translating materials for Affordable Care Act outreach and a new program for pediatric patients.

VIA is proud to support initiatives that further education, understanding, and access to healthcare coverage and services for seniors, children and previously uninsured populations. Congratulations to this year’s winners!


How Complicated Can It Be? Translation Steps

I get the opportunity to work with customers all day and many times I get the question, what steps go into translating this document?  Well, there are more steps to the process than one would imagine.

  • 4-Phase-Methodology_EPSPhase One (Evaluation): At this stage, we clarify technical and customization requirements, assess language and cultural needs, define project objectives, scope, organization and control procedures, plan the project workflow, and set up HIPAA PHI procedures if needed.
  • Phase Two (Planning): At this stage, we assign a dedicated Project Manager and all linguistic staff, finalize the project schedule and communication plan, implement any needed training and/or workflow setup, and configure Computer-Assisted Translation tools.
  • Phase Three (Execution of Translation Process): At this stage, we exchange source files (this can be handled using email, secure FTP, or VIA’s OLS web portal), ensure all linguists are properly trained using translation memory and glossaries and style guides, manage the translation/transcreation and proofreading steps, as well as any needed graphics engineering and desktop publishing or multimedia localization. Then we manage a customized Quality Assurance process, and work with you during your internal review cycle to deliver the final product.
  • Phase Four (Maintenance): At this post-project stage, we solicit customer feedback for continuous improvement, then update and maintain translation memory and glossaries.

Look to your Language Service Provider (LSP) for assistance to help you understand the steps and tasks that go into completing your project. Learn more about our methodology here.

Healthcare Thoughts – In the Wake of ACA

Who’d think that Congress would still be bickering over the ACA? States that were selected to host healthcare exchanges officially opened their doors on October 1. Additionally, health plans raced to get their CMS materials finalized, translated and updated for print and placed on their websites by this time. The process has been quite stressful for my customers. Failure to meet the October 1 deadline could have led to heavy fines.

It was equally crazy for VIA and our linguistic teams. As a matter of fact, we were tasked to translate one Evidence of Coverage (EOC) and Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) into Spanish (75,000 words) in three days for one of my Northwest customers. We did it of course.

I’m certain there are plenty of other things happening in healthcare, but in my world the single most important topic right now is making sure my customers are prepared for 2014 and what is expected of them regarding their multilingual translation requirements.

Many of my health plan customers have been proactive and others prefer to take their chances with a “wait and see” approach just in case there are any last minute changes in legislation. Either way, I suggest having your vital materials in place and, at the very least, Spanish translated.

The healthcare exchanges will garner the need for more language access and this will certainly help the LEP community. Like everyone, I’m trying to be patient and waiting to see how impactful this first step in healthcare legislation will be on bringing positive change for the under insured and growing language needs.

Bill Kennedy

A Month that Calls for Celebration

It would be an understatement to say that most of you are a just a little preoccupied with the pending Health Insurance Exchanges that will be here in mere days. With open enrollment and the ACA weighing heavily on everyone’s minds, I thought I’d change gears and write about something uplifting that everyone can celebrate, which is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Starting in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, and celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of those with origins from Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

In a richly diverse nation full of the world’s many wonderful cultures and backgrounds, people of Hispanic origin still comprise the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Those of you that handle language access for your healthcare organization may find it no surprise that Spanish is also the second most common language in the country, and is spoken by over 30% of the population.

From the NFL to the nation’s capital, and many communities and events in between, it’s easy to find a way to join in a celebración of this historical month.

For tips on how to make the most of your marketing efforts to your Hispanic audiences check out these resources from VIA:


What are you doing to curb rising healthcare costs?

Albeit at a slower rate, Healthcare spending continues to rise. NPR covered a Kaiser Health News article this week titled Health Care Costs Are Projected To Outpace Economic Growth.

Some staggering statistics include:

  • The nation will spend $2.9 trillion this year on health services
  • Health spending will rise by 6.1% in 2014 to $3.1 trillion
  • By 2022, health spending will total $5 trillion amounting to a fifth of the gross domestic product

While much of the increase is attributed to the rising number of baby boomers moving into Medicare, and 11 million previously uninsured people gaining coverage through new Marketplaces and Medicaid expansion resulting from the ACA, this trend is clearly unsustainable.

Furthermore, it is still unknown if any of this additional coverage and access to care will actually improve outcomes. Are there just more patients entering the healthcare system, or are we truly on our way to accountable care and effectively improving population health? Will new collaborative approaches and reimbursement models help us concentrate on cost efficiencies?

In addition, we understand you might be a little overwhelmed when considering how you are going to disseminate information and reduce disparities for the new limited English proficiency populations in your care as a result of the healthcare reform. We’re here to help. As a vital partner to many health systems and plans we provide both process and cost efficiencies when it comes to translating your healthcare documentation. If you haven’t ordered the latest version of the Healthcare Guide to Translations you can access it here. You can also contact us to set up a personal 30 minute webinar on centralization best practices.

What does it all mean? The A-Z of Translation Definitions

dictionaryIt is not unusual for me to get questions about what DTP means or for a customer to be confused between what a PDF is and a source file is. So, I thought a brief glossary of the terms frequently used in the translation industry would be helpful. Whether you need to communicate effectively with linguists or language service providers, you’ll find some of the answers here.

  • Source File – The original document to be translated.
  • Native File – The same as source file the original document to be translated
  • File Prep – All preparation work required to ready a document for translation. For example, converting a PDF document to an editable format
  • TEP – Translation, edit and proofreading.  The linguist translates the document into the requested target langauge. A second professional linguist will proofread and edit the document
  • DTPDesktop Publishing: Reformatting the document to produce the translated document identical to the source document; in most incidences English.
  • QA – Quality Assurance:  a professional will review the final document to ensure no errors were introduced in the DTP phase of the project
  • Source Word/Text – This is the language of the source content and the language that Translators translate from.
  • Target Word/Text – The translation of the source word or text.
  • Glossary – is a collection of preferred terms with translations, definitions
  • Style Guide – is a tool that organizations can leverage to measurably increase translation quality and consistency.
  • Braille – Braille is a system of communication for blind or partially sighted people.
  • Cultural Adaptation – Editing a text to fit in with the cultural aspects of the target language
  • Literal Translation – A translation that follows the source text very closely.
  • Localization – The process of editing a product for a specific (usually foreign) market in cultural and linguistic terms.
  • Native speaker – A person with native speaker competence in a language.
  • Machine Translation – Translation carried out by a software program without human intervention that requires extensive editing of terminology, meaning and grammar.
  • Translation Memory – A software program used to store translation segments or units in a database for future use.
  • Word Count – A word count is the number of words that a document or file contains

Look to your Language Service Provider (LSP) for assistance to help you understand the steps and tasks that go into completing your project.