Archive for Natalie Middleton

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.

Lost in Translation: Preparing Open Enrollment Materials for LEP Populations May Be Trickier than it Seems

A recent story by OPB explained how the Oregon and Washington Health Exchanges are struggling to translate their materials correctly in preparation for open enrollment. Luckily, the exchanges don’t go live until October, so they have time to work the bugs out. We applaud them for getting a head start, as well as getting feedback on their translations.

Wherever you are at in the process, we’ve got some tips to help you get started on the right path:

  • Assess the situation: Identify the language, culture, ethnicity, and literacy levels of the groups whose needs you must address in your market.
  • Give yourself plenty of time: Keep in mind that it takes time to get your documents print-ready, translated and reviewed. Build plenty of time in your plan for each phase.
  • Find a good partner: Your choice of an LSP is critical to the success of your translation projects. Ideally, you want more than just a provider of translation services; you want a language services partner you can rely on.
  • Maximize your healthcare translation budget: By working with an LSP skilled with translation memory and industry tools, you can recycle previous translations and save 20-50%.
  • Streamline the review process: By using professionally created and maintained translation glossaries and style guides, you can reduce time spent in the review and revision process by as much as 50%.

Still feeling a little lost? We can help. Read our ANOC-EOC data sheet to learn about VIA’s translation solutions and how your plan can save time and money in your open enrollment translation process.

New Guide! Beyond Translation: Best Practices for Healthcare

2013 HC GuideWhether you’re on the provider side of the business, or on the health plan side, your audiences represent the widest range of languages and cultures in the history of U.S. healthcare. Your challenge of communicating with those audiences is exponentially increased by the range of languages, worldviews, traditions, communication preferences, and all the other nuances involved with those different cultures.

Which means translation is not as simple as just transferring your communications, word for word, from one language into another. And, between the demands of keeping current with the regulatory landscape, containing costs, meeting business objectives, and managing risk, you have less time to do more work than ever before.

So we wrote a primer on healthcare translation and localization to try and make your job a little bit easier. In this booklet we outline the best practices based not only our deep experience, but also drawn from a wide range of industry sources, to take the uncertainty out of addressing language access challenges for written and web-based communications. Most of all, we hope the information in this booklet is a practical aid, providing a framework to help you get the most from your healthcare translation and localization efforts.

Get your free copy here.

Does Your Roadmap Include Translation?

I recently joined the Healthcare marketing network group on LinkedIn and noticed that one of the most popular discussions is “One Big Reason Health Exchanges May Fail” which was started by Andrew Atkin, CEO, Planet H. Mr. Atkin makes some fantastic points and I agree that building a roadmap will greatly improve the customer experience for any state’s exchange program. That said, I think there’s one key element that should be added: language and cultural barriers.

Mr. Atkin notes that many of the 12 million new customers and 11 million small businesses that will flood the insurance market in 2014 “be less educated and more racially diverse.” In addition, he calls out a few great questions that healthcare marketers need to be thinking about, such as “How do you reach these customers?” But one question he doesn’t ask is “How do we communicate with the subset of these customers who don’t speak English as their first language?”

Research shows that limited-English-proficient (LEP) and minority populations are more likely than their white counterparts to have chronic disease, lack health insurance, and have difficulties communicating with healthcare providers, even if qualified as highly literate in their primary language. Even for those who speak English as a second language, comprehension of new vocabulary or subject matter can be quite low. This is especially true when faced with difficult medical terminology.

Bridging the language gap is key to ensuring your culturally diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare. True understanding happens when they can internalize the material in their native language. Therefore, I would recommend adding an 8th step to the roadmap: Tailor communication to the targeted cultures through translation and localization. Further, I would expand Mr. Atkins second big idea to say that trusted translators should be included in the close marketing partnerships with insurers, navigators and exchanges in order to truly “power the Customer Experience Road Map.”

To find out more about how to create readable health materials in any language, read our brief The Growing Challenges of Health Literacy.

Healthcare Translation: What You Need to Know to Save Time and Money

Addressing the diverse communities your organization serves in their own language, culture and literacy levels can be difficult at best. Between managing day-to-day delivery of services and controlling operating and outreach expenses, healthcare professionals are left with little time to focus on language access issues and even less budget to implement language access programs. Whether it’s vital documentation or marketing outreach materials, it takes a lot of time and effort to translate your organization’s information effectively. Luckily there are ways to simplify this process—from file formats to translation memory, even the tiniest tweak can save your organization heaps of time and stretch your budget so you can serve the greatest number of LEP (Limited English Proficiency) populations in your community.

Below are a few steps we recommend to get the most out of your time, money and translation projects:

  • Use Translation Memory. Translation memory software is a databank that captures previously translated text so you will be able to recycle translation from one document to the next.
  • Use a Glossary, Term List and Style Guide. Language is subjective and there are many ways to translate the same sentence. Many translation dollars can be saved by defining style and dialect preferences upfront.
  • Centralize Translation Ordering. By building and maintaining a centralized repository of health education content, you can streamline the translation process and establish consistent terminology use and corporate style across all geographies.

Want to know more? Sign up for a free virtual workshop  and we will give you the latest tips, tools and tried and true best practices to help you reap the maximum benefits from your healthcare translations.

HHS Releases CLAS & Blueprint to Help Organizations Improve Health Care Quality

Earlier this week Health and Human Services (HHS) released the enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care. This is meant to be a blueprint to guide individuals and organizations in implementing culturally and linguistically appropriate services in order to help advance better health and health care in the United States. You can read the press release here.

According to the website:

Health inequities in our nation are well documented, and the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) is one strategy to help eliminate health inequities. By tailoring services to an individual’s culture and language preference, health professionals can help bring about positive health outcomes for diverse populations.

We couldn’t agree more. At VIA we believe that bridging the language gap is key to ensuring culturally diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare. That said, we realize that reaching out to an ever-expanding range of cultures in your community and finding solutions to best meet the growing needs for your limited English proficiency (LEP) populations is challenging and complex. But, we’re here to help. From websites to patient education, VIA tailors each communication to the targeted culture.

As dedicated healthcare specialists, we serve over 400 healthcare clients globally. We’ve built translation capabilities in over 125 languages and a hand-selected network of over 1,000 professional healthcare-specific linguists.

In addition, to help you with this particular aspect of health equity, we have also created a guide with tips about how to keep current with language access mandates while still providing culturally and linguistically meaningful healthcare communications to your members and community.


How Are You Celebrating National Minority Health Month?

April is National Minority Health Month and the theme for 2013 is “Advance Health Equity Now: Uniting our Communities to Bring Health Care Coverage to All.” One of the biggest barriers we see to health equity is health literacy. Not only does it make navigating eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) challenging for someone who hasn’t been in the system for a number of years and/or someone with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), it is also affecting member acquisition, satisfaction and retention, as well as critical access to information on wellness, prevention and disease management.

The need for awareness and adherence to health literacy principles has become a public health concern estimated to cost the U.S. economy between $100 and $238 billion annually. Health literacy is a broad issue for 90 million people in the US that affects their ability to stay healthy. Only 12 percent of adults in the US today have proficient health literacy skills according to the National Assessments of Adult Literacy (NAAL). This means that nine out of 10 adults may lack the skills they need to manage their care and improve their health. Furthermore, 14 percent of adults have below basic health literacy and are more likely to report their health as poor, as well as lack health insurance.

Education, language, culture, access to resources, and age are all factors that impact a person’s health literacy. Ensuring that health education messages are understood, comprehended and adhered to starts with creating content at an eighth grade or lower literacy level, speaking in first person and using short sentences. It’s also important to incorporate pictures, bullet points and simple easy to understand graphics. Lastly, incorporating cultural nuances for LEP populations will increase readers’ understanding of the material.

Find out more about how you can ensure literacy with your healthcare communications in our brief titled “Growing Challenges of Health Literacy.”

Understanding the difference between Ilocano and Tagalog

Filipinos speak several languages. Two of the more common are Ilocano and Tagalog, and there is some confusion regarding the differences between them.

While the official name of the national language is now called Filipino, many people still refer to it as Tagalog. Originally a regional language, Tagalog became the basis of the Philippine national language and is now spoken widely in the entire Philippines by the Ilocanos, Cebuanos, Ilongos, Cordillerans and other indigenous tribes who each have their own native language.

Tagalog/Filipino is formally taught in schools and serves as a medium of instruction alongside English. It is also used in national print and broadcast media, so children learn it both inside and outside the classroom setting. However, Tagalog/Filipino is seldom used in written communications and official documents. English is used extensively in the fields of medicine (doctors write prescriptions, medical reports and diagnosis in English), engineering, law (legal documents and courts proceedings are in English and courts use translators to Tagalog or Ilocano when necessary), banking and finance, and most other professions.

Ilocano is a regional “Austronesian” language spoken in the northern part of Luzon and is sometimes referred to as Ilokano, Iloco or Iluko. Some people refer to Ilocano as a dialect. Carl Rubino explains the difference:

You will undoubtedly run into many Filipinos in your travels who will insist that Ilocano is not a language, but a dialect. This is because Filipinos, like the Chinese, use the terms language and dialect politically rather than linguistically. In the Philippines, the word language is usually reserved for tongues that are given a certain political and legal status. Tagalog, the native language of the people around the Manila area of southern Luzon Island, was declared the basis for the national Language (wikang pambansa) in 1937. All other languages of the archipelago were therefore never duly recognized officially and have been called dialects ever since.

Ilocano is not as adaptive to linguistic evolution as Filipino/Tagalog and is not formally taught in schools, but is still used by millions of people in the Philippines and abroad. It is perpetuated by its oral use in mass media, political campaigns and church services in the Ilocandia region. Ilocano writers of prose and poetry also help preserve grammar rules.

In many cases, because of the wide use of English, terms with no local equivalents in Tagalog or Ilocano are sometimes better left in English since these are understood by the majority of Filipinos and to try to translate them for translation’s sake would render the terms ambiguous, such as credit card, debit or bank account. Thus, it is very common to hear English terms interspersed in conversations in Ilocano and Tagalog.

Considering LEP in Streamlined Exchanges Application

As you may know, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is  working to develop a single, streamlined application to facilitate enrollment in Medicaid, CHIP, and the new health insurance Exchanges.

In the supporting statement released with the draft paper application and list of questions in the online application, CMS stated that it plans to collect race and ethnicity demographic data on the household contact on the application.

Given that an estimated 23% of Exchange applicants will speak a language other than English at home, the National Health Law Program (NHLP) is strongly recommending that the HHS consider the needs of limited English proficient (LEP) and amend the streamlined application to collect language data from all applicants, not only the household contact. NHLP believes that without this data it would make it difficult for the Exchanges, health plans, navigators and others to identify LEP individuals who need language services.

If you would like to comment on the single streamlined application you can do so between now and Thursday, Feb. 28 via; search for “CMS-10440.”

Tips for Creating Readable Health Materials in any Language

To help increase readability, consider these 4 tips when creating healthcare materials in other languages.

1. Health materials should focus on key messages and what patients need to know. Best practices include:
• Write clearly and in an active voice.
• Use familiar vocabulary and simple terminology.
• Use short sentences.
• Use graphics, videos or pictures that “show” rather than “tell.”
• Keep materials at a fourth- to sixth-grade level.

2. Employ readability tools to analyze and ensure the proper literacy levels.
• Word processing applications such as Microsoft Word can automatically determine the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and readability ranking.
• Because readability formulas used in English can’t be applied to foreign language documents, professional translators should utilize various other language-specific assessment tests.
• For Spanish, consider the Huerta Readability formula (HRE), an assessment similar to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test designed for analyzing texts in Spanish.

3. Health materials should be culturally relevant.
• Use images and examples that reflect the target audience. Pictures should display people of their own demographic rather than a generic stock photo of an “ethnic” person or family.
• If menu/food recommendations are included, they should reflect items that are relevant to that audience’s daily diet.
• Do not use slang or cultural references that may be unfamiliar to an immigrant or LEP population.
• Initiate a community review to test materials for comprehension and effectiveness.

4. Use professional linguists.
Materials should be translated by professional linguists and reviewed for grammatical inconsistencies and readability, important details that are beyond the capabilities of machine or computer-based translations.