Tag Archive for language

Enabling Patient Communication and Engagement

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!

Medical translation driving translation industry growth in India

Globalization has ushered in unprecedented opportunities to reach new audiences, incorporate new efficiencies, and build new partnerships. It connects untold people to resources and possibilities unheard of even 20 years ago. But there are challenges, and countries across the globe are trying to keep up.

In a recent Global Watchtower post, Vijaylaxmi Hegde explores how one of the increasingly important players in the global economy―India—is dealing with a key challenge: medical translation. What’s more, she points out that this need is helping fuel, inform and further the nation’s general translation and localization industry.

In countries like Sweden and the U.K., the need for translation has been driven by the demands of growing immigrant and refugee populations. But in India that impetus is being delivered in part by what is being called “medical tourism.”

In recent years, patients from countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and others have begun traveling to India for care, and as they do so they are bringing with them new and largely unfamiliar language and cultural requirements. The medical translation community is scrambling to respond.

As globalization continues to forge connections between far-flung cultures and peoples, and those peoples travel for work, business, or, in the case of India, health, the demand for translation will only grow more acute. Medical translation must rise to meet the challenge if such opportunities are to be truly successful or ultimately sustainable.

Till next time,

Those searching for health-related content online continues to grow

Today, approximately 80 percent of Internet users look to the web for health-related information information. This puts it behind only email and using a search engine as the most common reason for using the Internet.

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation (CHFC), the number is only growing, with Internet users finding ever more health-related reasons to venture online.

The top five most popular subjects for health-related searches include the following, in order of frequency/popularity:

  • A disease or medical problem: 66%.
    (The top five issues include: shingles, gallbladder, gout, hemorrhoids, and lupus.)
  • A certain medical treatment or procedure: 56%.
    (Common terms include: pain relievers, anti-depressants, high blood pressure medication, corticosteroids, and hysterectomy.)
  • Doctors or other health professionals: 44%.
  • Hospitals or other medical facilities: 36%.
  • Health insurance, including private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid: 33%.
  • The research revealed that those most likely to look to the web for health information are caregivers, women, whites, younger adults, and adults with at least some college education. But that is changing as the rise of wireless mobile devices enables other groups such as young people, Hispanics, and African Americans to increasingly pursue information online.

    Is your web presence prepared to serve these searchers? How about for the growing population of limited English proficient (LSP) patients? If not, it might be time to consult your language services partner.

    Till next time,

Familiar prenatal tool proving helpful for linguists

How might ultrasound, a tool long relied on in pre-natal medical settings, help with language study? As it turns out, the same technology that images fetuses can help with the study of endangered languages, teaching foreign languages, and assisting the deaf to speak.

Innovative scientists are turning to the technology to study and track the tongues of their subjects in real time. As it happens, it is one of the only medical scanning devices that can keep up with speech. And since the portable technology became affordable to linguists in about 2000, about 40 have begun using it.

It’s also a welcome improvement over the x-rays and glue-on electronic probes that had been used prior to ultrasound. The first exposes the subject to harmful radiation, while the second tends to be inconvenient and not especially comfortable for those being examined.

Using ultrasound, researchers have been able to capture some of the fastest sounds in human speech: the clicking consonants used in a number of rare African languages. Linguists did not know how these sounds were produced, making them difficult to order in the International Phonetic Alphabet, the universal system that catalogues all the sounds in the world’s languages.

Thanks to the technology, research published in 2009 identified more than 40 different kinds of click consonants, organizing them based on attributes such as airstream (where the air comes from), place (where the mouth constricts), and manner of articulation. This information has now allowed the clicks to be properly classified.

Till next time,

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!

A hearty good luck to the translators at this year’s World Cup

We spend a good deal of time and energy in our discussions here exploring the challenges that go along with medical translation. And there are many to be sure; our world is only growing more heterogeneous and complicated. But sometimes it can be reassuring to remember that other industries face even greater translation challenges.

This occurred to me in reading about the World Cup currently under way in South Africa. Just consider for a moment that this event, the largest sporting spectacle in the world, is comprised of teams from 32 nations, with 350,000 on-site fans, 500 million more watching on TV, and by some estimates more than $3 billion in media and marketing revenues.

I began to imagine the sorts of heavy lifting necessary to ensure that all the various audiences, with their unique languages and cultures, enjoy equal access to accurate, up-to-date information about the games. South Africa alone has 11 official languages!

A recent post on the Global Watchtower blog identified just a few of items on what must be a very long list. Needs include signage, website localization, translation of tourist brochures, press announcements, voice-over, and on-site medial translation support. The official World Cup website itself is available in six languages (Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese).

So, if you ever feel overwhelmed by your medical translation demands, just remember: It could be worse. J

Good health!

Could this small incidental influence your medical translation costs?

One of the many benefits you derive by working with a seasoned language services provider (LSP) is access to their wealth of knowledge about translation, technology, and, if you choose well, your industry. The good ones apply that experience to help you achieve your communication goals, while keeping costs down.

Experience has taught us that cost-cutting opportunities can appear in the most unexpected places. Consider this: You likely don’t give much thought to the font you use in your print communications. But if they’re on their game, your LSP does. Why? Because that seemingly simple decision can impact the bottom line.

The reality is different fonts require different amounts of ink. For the typical drug or medical device manufacturer, for example, simply choosing Century Gothic over Arial could save the company thousands of dollars in ink and paper costs.

Printer.com recently conducted a test, pitting fonts against each other to find the “greenest” and most economical options. Arial, a very popular style, was used as a benchmark. The winner? Century Gothic took the top spot, using 30 percent less ink than Arial. Ecofont and Times Roman rounded out the top three. Check out the Printer.com link for the rankings and associated costs.

I understand that fonts are not directly related to medical translation. But they’re not unrelated either. The point is that your communications campaigns are composed of a multitude of choices, some as small as the font you use. It’s how you navigate those choices that makes all the difference.

Good health!

Medical tourism booming ― along with healthcare translation challenges

Healthcare costs have priced a good many people out of pursuing certain services or procedures in the U.S. And it’s a situation only made worse by the economic travails of recent months, with many electing to postpone treatment or forego it altogether.

As a recent post on the Global Watchtower blog points out, many people, including an increasing number of Americans and British, are choosing to still get the work done, but just not at home. These people are seeking less expensive options in countries like Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, and Poland. India alone is expected to enjoy US$2.2 billion in annual revenue from medical tourism by 2012.

The problem, of course, is language. Understanding medical materials can be confusing enough at home. Traveling to another country — with an entirely different language — can pose some daunting communication challenges.

As the medical tourism industry grows, foreign healthcare providers will learn what U.S. providers have learned: The quality of your services is directly related to your ability to clearly and effectively communicate with patients.

Good health!