As we start another new year bright with promise, most of us most likely have a resolution or two in mind, or perhaps a mental list of things we’d like to accomplish in the coming year both personally and professionally. In the realm of healthcare, chances are many of our professional goals for the coming year are aligned with the path we’ve already embarked on as a healthcare community – improving coverage, diagnostics, treatment and access, minimizing disparities, focusing on wellness and enabling patient engagement to improve outcomes and population health.
Although I haven’t worked as a care provider in a clinical setting, during the course of my career I’ve had the privilege and opportunity to provide services furthering the above. On the flip side, I’ve also had the opportunity to see the complexity of healthcare jargon and healthcare delivery through the eyes of elderly family members. It can be an absolutely terrifying world!
That experience makes me even more passionate about improving healthcare delivery and the patient experience. While a translation provider may not be the first service provider that that springs to mind, we play an important role in healthcare delivery at here at VIA. We understand that bridging the language gap is key to ensuring culturally diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare, have the information needed to make informed care decisions and experience optimal quality. We have a passion for helping our customers communicate with their patients across boundaries of language, comprehension and culture.
Best wishes for a healthy New Year!
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.