Archive for January 24, 2013

Flu Vaccinations and Ethnic Disparities

There has been a lot of media attention about the flu this month – with good reason – by all reports this year’s flu outbreak has been particularly severe. As of last week, forty-eight states reported widespread geographic influenza activity. Looking at the CDC’s published statistics on flu cases requiring medical care – including hospitalizations and adult and pediatric deaths – it’s clearly important to communicate the need for seeking appropriate care as well as relaying the message that it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

It’s especially important to communicate this message across all cultures and communities, and to do so at the appropriate health literacy level. Racial and ethnic disparities in immunization rates continue to persist even as health plans and Medicare cover the cost.

Research has shown several factors are associated with low flu immunization rates including cultural and linguistic barriers that limit access to care, living in linguistically isolated areas and newer immigrant destinations, consumer lack of awareness about the need for the vaccinations, and consumer fear that the vaccines will cause severe illness.

Keep in mind that cultural adaptation as well as localization plays a role in consumer/patient education. Partnering with a professional language service provider that specializes in the U.S. healthcare market is a good way to ensure vital health information resonates with culturally diverse communities. Regardless of a populations’ language, location or culture, prevention of the annual flu is one of the many areas where effective communication can have a significant impact on public health.


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

Knowledge Is Power; Make It Stick

The Benefits of E-learning and Gaming

I had a great conversation with a Manager of Diabetes Education that really got me thinking about the accessibility of information for patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP.) One key point really stood out to me as she mentioned that if the proper materials were not available in a form patients could readily understand and feel comfortable with, they were less likely to seek care outside their primary care group, even if a visit to a specialist was required. It has been a challenge for this organization because their training materials are not always provided in all of the requested languages and are not easily accessible to large groups of patients and patients who live offsite. Furthermore there are consequences in the form of monetary fines if patients continue to return with medical conditions that are not treated properly. All in all, it is a lose-lose situation for all parties involved.

As we warp into a new year of communication advancements, we literally have the world at our fingertips and rapid communication updates in real time; why not take advantage of it? There are several options out there and one major advancement is the ability to provide education via E-learning and gaming modules. E-learning and interactive games are a great way to engage patients and allow them to learn about all available options, understand the risks and required preparation and weigh the pros and cons. With the power of knowledge, patients gain confidence and will more likely take the necessary steps and make the right choices to maintain a healthy lifestyle and/or get the care they need.

I’ve recently been exposed to such E-learning tactics, specifically for laser eye surgery. I was clueless to the differences in surgery options, how the procedure worked, risks involved, how to prepare and the do’s and don’ts after surgery. The clinic e-mailed a link to their detailed informational overview on their e-learning platform that included animated visuals of the procedure, voice explanations with written queues and even allows patients to take a break after each segment to write questions directly to the doctor. The best part about this approach to education is you can access materials and information anywhere, review everything at your own pace and retention for game-based learning tends to be greater than traditional learning. E-learning and gaming will be beneficial to patients and health groups alike when it comes to long-term patient education.

Until next time,


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