Archive for September 30, 2010

New IFR rules include a provision that addresses translation need

As Chanin announced here last week, the Speaking Healthcare blog is now under new management. And she has left some big shoes to fill. But I’m really looking forward to continuing to bring you informative posts on healthcare subjects that explore the industry and how medical translation fits into it. Let me thank you up front for joining me.

I thought I would start with a recent piece of news some may have missed. I’m referring to the announcement of the interim final regulations (IFR) for internal claims and appeals and external review processes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The rules were put out by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury and include six new requirements. Most important for our purposes with regard to language access is rule number 5.

Called “Enhanced Notice,” it stipulates that a healthcare plan or issuer must provide notice to enrollees in a “culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.” What’s more, if more than an established maximum number of people are only able to speak in a given language, notices in that language are required. A description of available internal appeals and external review processes must also be made available, along with directions about how to begin an appeal. Finally, should additional help be necessary, contact information and the availability of a healthcare insurance ombudsmen must be provided to assist with the internal claims and appeals and external review processes.

It’s exciting to see the language needs of today’s limited English proficient (LEP) patients addressed in such an important context. Model notices for the Enhanced Notice rule are scheduled to be available soon. To review the other new rules, check out this summary.

Until next time,

Introducing a new voice on the Speaking Healthcare blog!

We began the Speaking Healthcare blog more than a year and a half ago. In that time we have touched on a wide range of subjects, including medical translation, the changing makeup of our patient communities, evolving healthcare legislation, emerging technology, and a host of other topics.

I’ve greatly enjoyed exploring these issues with you, and I have learned a great deal along the way. But as we approach the 150-post milestone, it seemed like it might be a good time for a bit of a change. So, starting next week, I will be handing over the reins of the blog to our own VP of Healthcare, Steve Vogeltanz.

Steve is a perfect successor, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge about healthcare translation as well as a tireless curiosity regarding what’s happening in the world of healthcare translation and in the industry at large. I have no doubt that you will enjoy what he brings to the conversation.

In the meantime, let me offer a big thank you to all of you who have joined me over the last months. I’ve appreciated your interest and your thoughtful feedback. It’s been a great ride and a lot of fun. And good luck, Steve!

Good health!

Google looking to help fuel global medical translation availability

Google seems to be everywhere these days. Be it discussions with Verizon about the future of the Internet or talks with China about Internet freedom, they are helping drive many important conversations that promise to directly and indirectly impact global communication.

They are also a company whose professed operating principle is “do no harm,” and many of their enterprises seek to demonstrate a commitment to the greater good. That looks to be the intent of a recent announcement by Google’s philanthropic side,, to help make health-related information available to people around the world, regardless of their language.

Called Health Speaks, the effort intends to use community, crowdsourced, and collaborative translation, tools we’ve addressed in earlier posts here, to promote and facilitate access to health care information. The approach hinges on volunteers, who will be responsible for translating the health-related content.

To help get things started, for each word translated during the first 60 days Google will donate US$0.03 to one of three non-profit organizations—Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt, the Public Health Foundation of India, and the African Medical and Research Foundation—up to total of $150,000.

At present, the project, which launches as a pilot, will only address three languages: Arabic, Hindi, and Swahili. A modest beginning to be sure, the initiative nevertheless represents the growing public awareness that access to health care information remains one of the most important hurdles to wellness across the planet.

Good health!

Remember fellow medical translators, Spain is more than just Spanish

It bears repeating: Language matters. It is, of course, one of our abiding mantras at viaLanguage and one that we keep top of mind when working with our healthcare clients as they endeavor to reach their limited-English proficient (LEP) patients.

And it’s not easy. As anyone involved in medical translation, or any kind of translation, can tell you, it involves a great deal more than replacing the words of one language with those of another. We’ve discussed how Spanish, for example, can differ from country to country, but that’s just the beginning.

Consider the challenges of communicating with your patients from Spain. This would seem a fairly straightforward situation: use Spanish or perhaps neutral Spanish. But a recent post on the Medical Translation Insight blog underscored why this might not be as easy as it seems at first blush.

In truth, Spain is culturally and linguistically diverse. And while Spanish is admittedly the dominant language, did you know that the country actually has five official languages? They are Castilian, which is also referred to as Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Aranese.

Not surprisingly, the Spanish tend to be multilingual, but the speakers of these other languages are proudly protective of their language’s role in the culture and history of their people and region.

To learn more about the language breakdown in Spain, visit the blog post. In the meantime, it’s good for us to remember that to communicate effectively we must never ignore our duty to develop an understanding of the culture of our audience, even when it seems obvious.

Good health!

Mark your calendar for free medical translation webinar Sept. 16

If healthcare organizations hope to thrive in today’s multicultural melting pot, they have to meet the language access needs of their limited-English proficient (LEP) patients. This is not news to most of you. You deal with that challenge every day. But true success means creating a medical translation program that is economically sustainable, no small thing in today’s world of shrinking budgets and growing demand.

For those who know they can do better when it comes to serving their LEP patients, but aren’t always sure how to pay for the support that requires, viaLanguage is offering a free webinar entitled “Tips to Streamline and Save on Your Healthcare Translations.” Here’s the when:

Sept. 16th at 8:00 a.m. (HT), 11:00 a.m. (PT), 1:00 p.m. (CT), 2:00 p.m. (ET)

As for the what, the webinar will explore new techniques and tips for streamlining your translation process, without compromising the quality or effectiveness of your communications. Topics include:

• Innovative practices for ensuring accurate, readable health materials, including health literacy and cultural assessment
• Recommendations for cutting time and costs while maintaining quality
• Incorporating translation tools and Translation Memory into your projects
• Machine translation today – is it free?

Maybe you’re just getting started with medical translation or perhaps you just want to get the most up-to-date information on today’s best practices. Either way, we hope you can join us!

Good health!