Archive for Healthcare Translation Best Practices

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.


Would You Like to Win a Grant for Free Healthcare Translation?

We at VIA are excited to announce that our 2013 Translation Grant Program is officially open!

In case you didn’t know, our annual translation grant program awards a total of $3,000 of in-kind translation to two healthcare organizations and/or programs that support language access.

Just like our healthcare partners and customers, the VIA team is passionate about improving healthcare access for underserved, limited English proficiency (LEP) communities. We also feel strongly about giving back, so that’s why we have maintained our tradition of awarding translation grants to healthcare organizations that are actively working to decrease disparities and improve communication efforts with their LEP populations.

If this sounds like your organization, we welcome you to apply. The deadline for applications is September 28, 2013 and recipients will be selected by October 18, 2013. Click here to learn more and get the application.

Best of luck!

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.

Bridging the Language Gap: A Key Piece to the New Healthcare Marketplace

As I previously mentioned, the upcoming open enrollment season will bring heaps of newly-eligible health consumers, many of whom do not speak English as their native tongue. In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that as many as one in four new consumers who will apply for health coverage in the new exchange will speak a language other than English in their home. Removing language barriers for LEP populations is a must for states and health insurance providers to truly ensure equal access to information and healthcare services.

With already so much to prepare for by October’s open enrollment date, those involved with the new health exchange may benefit from some quick tips and proven practices on how to best address their new LEP consumers. And fortunately, Families USA and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) have developed a “Language Access Checklist for Marketplace Implementation”. This checklist provides a full set of recommendations on how to ensure LEP consumers can successfully enroll in, use and retain coverage. And for even more best practices on managing your multilingual healthcare communications as well as your budget, get your copy of our complimentary guide: Beyond Translation: Best Practices for Healthcare here.


‘Tis the Season to Start Planning for Open Enrollment

As a result of the Affordable Care Act’s impact on the 2014 landscape, health plans are preparing their mandated documents such as the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) earlier than usual. The ANOC/EOC is a critical component of your plan as it provides details about coverage, costs and more. This may sound simple enough, but this year insurance plans need to take into account more than just earlier timelines. As a result of the recent reform, 12 million new customers and 11 million small businesses will flood the insurance market in January. Many of these new consumers will come from households that are not only more culturally and linguistically diverse, but that have never had health insurance before.

Navigating the new health exchanges and healthcare system is challenging enough for seasoned professionals, let alone for someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language. And with October and the open enrollment period right around the corner, health plans will soon need to find new strategies to effectively communicate with their new and diverse customers. Bridging the language gap is essential to ensuring diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare, because true understanding happens when people can internalize the material in their native language. So whether it’s ANOC/EOC’s, SBC’s, or any of the other numerous communications your plan will soon be sending out, the key is to ensure that you are truly reaching your market in a meaningful, effective way.

Learn more about VIA’s ANOC/EOC translations and how your plan can save up to 20%.


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.

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.


Is Your Plan Ready for the Changing Face of Healthcare?

Not only are health plans facing reform, but as our population continues to diversify, language and cultural barriers continue to complicate matters. Health plans across the nation are preparing for what’s in store for the next two years. In order to succeed in this evolving environment, they need to reassess current strategies and find ways to turn challenges into new opportunities. The healthcare industry must redesign its business models to better capture, serve, and keep a growing class of empowered customers. Healthcare reform has brought more questions than answers, and there’s still much we don’t know. One thing that can certainly be said, however, is that the health plans of tomorrow will not be the same as today. Therefore it is vital they keep members informed, educated and engaged.

Join VIA on February 27 for our next healthcare translation webinar on 2013 Health Plan Preparedness. This complimentary event will highlight features of the health care law that pertain to language access, and will better equip health plans to serve their diverse members.

Attendees will also learn:

  • Trends around legislation, immigration and language populations
  • Prioritizing your budget for the greatest impact
  • Tips for managing content – from healthcare literacy, translation to cultural sensitivity
  • Using print, video and mobile to improve education and engagement

Time’s running out, so reserve your seat now and stay ahead of the curve!


How to Find a Quality Healthcare Specific Language Service Provider.

Think beyond the sample translation

This year your commitment to healthcare awareness may have brought you in search of a healthcare language service provider and chances are you’re considering a “test” translation as your dependable measure for quality. In the sea of options out there, how else will you know if you are likely to get good quality in a language you are probably not a professional speaker of?
We all soon come to realize that a test translation falls far short of the hoped for guarantee. Perhaps, the “best translator” was put on the test; or maybe it was a fluke. Either way, time after time, a test translation has been the relied upon predictor for long-term quality leaving most of us wondering what happened to the perfect translator.
To put this in perspective, I recently had a linguist tested for quality by two different reviewers. One gave the linguists 68 out of a 100 and the other gave the linguist 92 out of 100.
After 15 years in localization and probably more than 3000 tests, I have come to the following two conclusions:
1. Quality is not an instant deliverable – it is a commitment built and established over time with a mixture of experience in the subject, experience with the company, and time available to do the work.
2. Quality is a partnership between client reviewer and agency linguist.

So when I look for quality in our healthcare vendor pool I place more weight on the mechanisms and framework for building and committing to quality than I do on a test translation. The top three things I look for are:
1. Do the linguists or teams look to develop healthcare specific glossaries and style guides – can they give me examples?
2. Do they monitor and track quality over a period – per month, quarter, or year? Can I see multi-term quality metrics for their teams?
3. Do they have corrective quality frameworks that ensure errors are identified and fixed systematically – can they show me change logs or updates to a sample of their language assets?
If I can establish the existence of systematic long-term quality management then I will in turn commit to supporting and growing quality in a partnership together. Together we can track number of errors and corrections, work on healthcare style guides, glossaries and translation memory assets. We can even manage and work through escalations and record the corrective activities together.
In truth, all this is significantly less work than replacing vendors or dealing with systemic quality issues once the glow of the single excellent “test” result fades. Just like every other aspect of our lives, quality is a long term partnership that only bares fruit with effort and commitment. What do you think is the best predictor of quality in a language service provider?

Contributed by:

Nic McMahonNic McMahon, EVP of Global Solutions