Tag Archive for economics

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,

Healthcare reform set to increase demand for medical translation

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us we can expect the healthcare industry to grow over the next decade. How much? Forecasts are that about one in four jobs created in the U.S. through 2018 will be in healthcare.

The engines behind such growth are fairly easy to identify: America’s aging population and the $940 billion Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) passed last March. What some may neglect to appreciate is what this means for medical translation.

Industry analysts suggest these developments could lead to an increase in the insurance rolls of approximately 44 million people. Most striking for medical translators is that half of those will be coming from communities in which English is not the primary language.

Not surprisingly, a great many of these limited English proficient (LEP) Americans are applauding the reform and looking forward to the welcome coverage. For example, a recent New America Media poll revealed that more than 65 percent of Korean-Americans, the nation’s most underinsured ethnic group, support the reform package.

But such growth is also likely to trigger a spike in the need for medical translation, which the new legislation mandates must be “culturally and linguistically appropriate.” Plus, this now applies not only to health plan details, but also benefit, prescription, and treatment information, a big change. And most significantly perhaps it must all be completed by July 1, 2011.

Today’s uninsured are ready. But will the industry be ready to receive them?

Till next time,

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, Google.org, 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!

Your multilingual website is about words, but it’s also about numbers

Health-related organizations of all stripes are increasingly embracing the web and social media tools to reach their audiences. The costs tend to be competitive when compared to other communication vehicles and the possibilities potentially great.

However, the difficulties associated with capturing the data from these interactions remains an ongoing challenge for many organizations. While important issues like hosting, legal requirements, and others are being largely resolved, important details like who is visiting the site, where they are going, and how long they are staying are not always clear.

As a result, identifying the best analytics tools and how to set them up is a task many organizations are now making a priority. This is significant as such usage information is critical to determining if your online presence is truly working for your audience, especially if yours is a multilingual site.

You can start by conferring with language services provider (LSP) as they know your business and understand your medical translation and communication goals. In the meantime, you can take a look at Google Analytics as well, which addresses how to report for multilingual sites and e-commerce storefronts, should you have one.

For a bit of background, read the June post on the Google Analytics blog entitled “Advanced: E-Commerce Roll Up Reporting For Websites With Different Languages.” At the very least, it will give you some food for thought and might help you devise the right questions to address to your LSP.

Good health!


Healthcare translation makes good economic sense

In a recent post on the Neupert On Health blog, Microsoft’s Peter Neupert frames the healthcare situation as an economic question. People do, obviously, talk about the costs of health care a great deal; there’s nothing new in that. But Neupert takes it step further, encouraging us to apply the principles of economics to the health reform debate.

“If we acknowledge,” he says, “that health, that is the delivery of health care services and the prevention of illness, are economic activities ― then we can ask the question about what is the best way to organize that economic activity to create value.”

As language service providers (LSPs), we are asked every day to help our clients streamline their communications with their customers to save money and bring value. In other words, speaking to customers in a language they understand is a necessary ingredient of that economic activity.

So I remain surprised, given the growing population of limited English proficient (LEP) patients in the U.S., that language requirements do not as a matter of course figure in the economic discussions surrounding healthcare reform. After all, if we cannot clearly and effectively communicate with all patients, there seems little hope that real value can follow.

Good health!