Achieving an accurate translation is not easy. Aside from the obvious challenges, there are innumerable subtleties bound to culture and usage that can undermine an otherwise sound translation.
Our experience has taught us that in many cases it can come down to a single word. Meaning one thing in one context the word can have a different meaning in another. Here are a couple of Spanish examples:
1. Drug — “Droga,” a common translation, can often be taken as an actual threat to health. “Medicamento” is usually the preferred translation in a healthcare context.
2. Balance — It is very common to mistranslate as “balance” in Spanish, which means “equilibrium” and is not quite accurate. The better translation is typically “saldo.”
3. Hospice — The temptation is to translate “hospice” to “hospico,” but in Spanish this is a place for the underprivileged especially when maintained by a religious or governmental institution. The better translation for a healthcare audience is “Centro de cuidados paliativos.”
Understanding these subtleties comes with experience and overlooking them can be costly. So make sure when approaching translation projects you are working with a knowledgeable language services partner.
Social networking sites like blogs, Facebook, YouTube and others have today become the preferred source for information, entertainment and communication for an increasingly large portion of the population.
Recent studies on who is using these social networks have proven to be very revealing. Current numbers suggest that ethnic minorities and Hispanics specifically, are the most regular consumers of social media. Nearly 30 percent are identified as Spanish-preferring Hispanics, even higher when you focus on those under 35 years of age.
Experts explain this by pointing to a tendency among these groups to favor community-oriented values, looking to one another for help and support. Social media tools make this sharing of information easier than ever.
Clearly, social media can be a powerful way to promote healthcare access among your LEP audiences. But the challenges faced online are little different than those encountered with traditional tools: You must ensure that you say what you mean and account for the cultural nuances that are critical to being understood.
State legislatures know that when it comes to healthcare we too often fail to adequately communicate with limited-English proficient (LEP) audiences. They also know that as a result LEP speakers are less likely to have a primary care provider or receive preventative care and more likely to experience medical errors.
The State of California addressed this issue with SB 853. The legislation, first passed in 2003, mandated that by January 1, 2009, every healthcare plan in the state must have established and implemented a language assistance program. This includes translation of all vital documents into “threshold” languages and making interpretation services available at all points of contact.
Recently, the State of Washington attempted to do something similar. With nearly half a million citizens relying on subpar English skills, the State conceived SB 5140 to help ensure equal access to all.
Sadly, the bill failed due in large part to budgetary concerns. Experience has taught us that this is short sighted. States see time and again that failure to clearly communicate with LEP audiences only leads to higher long-term health care costs down the road.
Imagine the consequences if healthcare and medical terms were not translated and presented accurately. For example, the word “intoxicado,” meaning “nauseated,” if translated as “intoxicated,” could result in the patient being treated for drug overdose, which may result in a brain aneurysm.
The precarious use of these terms can be risky and not only result in inaccurate translation but also misdiagnosis, which in certain instances can be life threatening.
One way of reducing these risks is to ensure the use of glossary and style guides. A glossary is a comprehensive list of commonly used terms, phrases and product names specific to the healthcare industry. A style guide provides advice on writing style, convention, and formatting preferences and is essential for consistency of documentation.
It’s important that your LSP understand the necessity of quality and innate consistency in translations. They know that addressing these issues can go a long way toward achieving near “zero defects” in the finished translation product.
We all know America’s baby boomer generation is reaching the time when they will become eligible for Medicare benefits. This is true for Medicare-eligible LEP populations as well. Reaching this important market sector requires, and in many states demands, translating into their native language.
Medicare Marketing Strategies 2009 is geared to help healthcare professionals address new regulations, while growing and retaining market share. Among the presentations, Francisco Garbayo, Director of Emerging Markets and Corporate Performance with Regence Group, a long-standing viaLanguage customer, will discuss “Medicare Marketing to the Latino Population.”
The Regence Group won the 2008 “Best of Blues” award for their marketing program nationally, so Francisco is sure to have some great ideas to share.
The conference will take place March 24-26, 2009, at the Holiday Inn Crystal City, Washington, DC. We look forward to seeing you there!
Strategic Account Executive