Tag Archive for cultural diversity healthcare

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.


A Month that Calls for Celebration

It would be an understatement to say that most of you are a just a little preoccupied with the pending Health Insurance Exchanges that will be here in mere days. With open enrollment and the ACA weighing heavily on everyone’s minds, I thought I’d change gears and write about something uplifting that everyone can celebrate, which is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Starting in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, and celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of those with origins from Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

In a richly diverse nation full of the world’s many wonderful cultures and backgrounds, people of Hispanic origin still comprise the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Those of you that handle language access for your healthcare organization may find it no surprise that Spanish is also the second most common language in the country, and is spoken by over 30% of the population.

From the NFL to the nation’s capital, and many communities and events in between, it’s easy to find a way to join in a celebración of this historical month.

For tips on how to make the most of your marketing efforts to your Hispanic audiences check out these resources from VIA:


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.


U.S. government makes pledge to address health needs of minority groups

If you’re a member of a minority group in the U.S., chances are good that your healthcare, and consequently your health, are worse than that of the rest of the population. This includes everything from higher infant mortality rates to a greater likelihood of diabetes, heart disease and asthma to a shorter life expectancy.

In response, the U.S. government recently announced a first-of-its-kind plan focused on righting the imbalance and bringing parity to healthcare and healthcare access. It addresses the role to be played by doctors, federal health officials, and communities at large, and includes a wide spectrum of health-related objectives, including the following:

  • Increase by 10 percent the number of poor children who receive preventive dental care.
  • Hire local community health workers to help diabetics.
  • Enlist “promotoras,” the name given to community health workers who work with Spanish speakers.
  • Develop incentives to improve care for minority groups.
  • Conduct new studies regarding which treatments work best for minority groups.
  • Create a national online database of certified interpreters that doctors or hospitals can use for non-English-speaking patients.
  • Create state grants to measure and improve care for asthma.

The report also asserts that the funds to finance the multifaceted program would come from existing sources and so is not contingent upon current budget wrangling, which is good.

A promising declaration of purpose, the plan could surely have a beneficial impact in these needy communities. We look forward to seeing what happens from here.

Till next time,

Multilingualism now thought to help fight dementia as we grow older

You have no doubt heard or read that brainteasers and word games like crossword puzzles are thought to help us maintain a higher level of mental fitness as we grow older. Canadian studies now suggest that speaking two or more languages can provide a similar benefit, helping people better deal with the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative memory diseases.

The finding were recently reported in a New York Times article entitled “Building a More Resilient Brain,” highlighting research that has shown, for example, that for bilingual speakers dementia can be delayed by an average of four years compared to those speaking one language.

Speaking more than one language on a regular basis also seems over time to bolster what is called the brain’s “cognitive reserve.” This refers to the brain’s capacity to operate even when stressed or damaged, and the build-up of this reserve is now thought to benefit us as we grow older.

The theory is that the benefits of bilingualism are related to a type of brain function called “inhibitory control” or “cognitive control.” This, according to Ellen Bialystok, a bilingualism research at York University in Toronto, is the name given to our ability to stop paying attention to one thing and focus on something else, a common necessity among multilingual speakers who must continually ignore one language in their minds to access and communicate in another.

Bialystock and her fellow researchers are quick to point out that multilingualism is not going to prevent Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia. But we, and especially today’s hardworking translators, are encouraged to learn that it could just have a positive impact in delaying those conditions.

Till next time,

Healthcare innovations should not neglect medical translation needs

Among the intentions of the new health reform legislation is an expansion of choice for today’s healthcare consumer. This focus is already casting into sharper relief the imperative for providers to effectively communicate with their audiences, especially its limited English proficient (LEP) audiences.

HealthPartners, a provider and insurer in Minnesota, recently launched a novel remote diagnosis service. Called Virtuwell, the new service is available online, offering treatment for a range of common conditions that don’t typically require an actual exam. These include colds, allergy-related issues, ear pain, yeast and urinary tract infections, and a host of others.

Patients visiting the site are first asked a set of standard questions en route to diagnosis. The answers are then reviewed by a nurse practitioner, who then contacts the patient directly about 30 minutes later.

It is hoped that the service, which costs about $40 and is available to anyone living in or visiting Minnesota, will streamline the process for medical staff, while enabling patients to enjoy more immediate care and assistance and at a lower cost.

On that score it is a laudable effort. But what is not mentioned, and what seems absent after a brief tour of the Virtuwell site, are any language options. In a state that recent census data identifies as being comprised of a population that is 5 percent foreign born (more than 260,000 people), such an option seems like a missed opportunity.

Till next time,

Interest in healthcare translation services continues to rise

Reduced quality of care, adverse health outcomes, and health disparities can persist unless communication barriers are addressed in the delivery of health services. In fact, more than 23 million Americans have limited English proficiency (LEP), which leads to a plethora of healthcare challenges.

A new policy brief from independent research firm, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., assesses emerging national efforts to address language barriers and looks specifically at three states — California, Minnesota, and New York. The study highlights challenges, successes, and implications for future policy and activities related to providing language services.

According to Mathematica, in 2008 all 50 states had at least two laws in place for providing these services in healthcare settings, up from 43 states in 2006. However, the laws vary greatly. California, Minnesota, and New York have been at the forefront of these efforts and are considered leaders in providing language services.

The study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and written by Au, Erin Fries Taylor, and Marsha Gold. To learn more, check out the study here: “Improving Access to Language Services in Health Care: A Look at National and State Efforts.”

Good health!