Tag Archive for localization

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.


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

Medical translation figuring in emerging healthcare apps

Every software developer is looking for the “killer” app. With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets like the iPad, the market for such applications is skyrocketing. Not surprisingly, healthcare is a common focus of these burgeoning tools, and the U.S. government, among others, wants to help spur that innovation.

Just ask Polyglot Systems. The North Carolina-based company (and viaLanguage client!) was just awarded the $5,000 top prize in a federally funded program that invited app developers to compete with each to develop the best health IT apps.

The winning app, chosen from a field of 15 contenders by a panel of health IT industry leaders, provides simplified medication instructions in multiple languages. Called “Meducation,” it retrieves medication lists from electronic health records (EHRs), and then links to a drug information database that provides simplified medication directions in one of several languages.

The contest grew out of a $15 million grant provided by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT through its Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects program. Meanwhile, researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School developed Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies (SMART), a programming interface to support the development of health-related apps.

It is encouraging to see both the resources and energy devoted to applying technological innovation to improving healthcare. It is doubly encouraging to see that translation needs are figuring in those efforts.

For more on the contest, check out the recent post on the iHealthBeat blog. And congratulations to Polyglot from all of us here at viaLanguage!

Till next time,

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!


Extend your marketing reach with effective language translation

Today’s multicultural landscape requires a suitably multicultural marketing strategy. One message no longer fits all. Culture and context are increasingly critical factors in how effectively you communicate not only with your customers, but with your suppliers, vendors, and supply chain and channel partners as well.

As a result, marketing translation, perhaps once a nice to have, is these days a must have. It is an important tool for both maximizing the impact of your communication efforts and a means for protecting your message and your brand among your diverse audiences.

If you’re wondering if your marketing translation arsenal is adequate, here are some key features of a well-rounded program:

  • Access to linguists with both language and marketing transcreation expertise
  • Translation of foreign language sites, marketing collateral, email marketing, and internal and external communications
  • Digital marketing supporting Web 2.0, viral, social, and new media communications
  • Language translation training for users in their native language
  • Translation memory to enable content reuse across technical documents and projects
  • Application translation and localization
  • Multimedia localization, including mobile multimedia services

If you have questions about any of the above, consult your language services provider (LSP). Or feel free to contact us at viaLanguage. We would be happy to share some of our experience on the subject, including a free marketing translation quote.

Good health!


Localization commoditization: If it seems too good to be true…

Localization is a critical piece of the communication puzzle for any organization that counts limited English proficient (LEP) speakers among its audience. As a result, localization has become ever more commoditized, prompting the industry to ask if this is not a mistake.

Given a rather low barrier to entry, the translation and localization market has grown, which continues to drive down prices. But the reality is that not all of the new language service providers (LSPs) bring the requisite expertise. So, while those in need of such services are enjoying ever cheaper rates, choosing those providers can be a real gamble. Just consider the math for a moment:

Using 2,000 words per day as a baseline, a bilingual, college-educated person with some translation experience should make about $45,000 a year. Assuming standard benefits, 401k, sick time, and vacation pay, that person will average out at about a $0.12 per word. Now add another $0.05 per word for proofreading. This figure rises still further if a company is managing the project and resources.

The truth is that age-old adage still applies: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
So, if you’re getting a steal, just make sure the LSP is providing real value. Otherwise, the stealing might just be going the other direction.

For a closer look at this issue, check out the recent study conducted by the European Union, “Studies on Language and Multilingualism: The Size of the Language Industry in the EU.”

Good health!

Don’t forget your website in your healthcare translation program

The reality of translation in general and healthcare translation in particular is that a cultural mistake in your translation can be damaging. In the case of hamburgers or ice cream, you risk your brand reputation. In healthcare, you imperil the very health of patients.

A recent article in eCommerce Times explores the sometimes overlooked reality that while the Internet is an exceedingly easy way to reach your audience, cultural accuracy is just as critical in your online communications.

Take the example cited by the article in which ice cream leaders Ben and Jerry inadvertently named a flavor “Black and Tan.” Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that the expression referred to British soldiers known for their cruelty in the fight for Ireland’s independence. Their Irish customers weren’t pleased. A similar sensitivity to the history and unique cultural touchstones of your patients is a necessary ingredient in successful healthcare translation.

Also important is the hiring of an experienced language services provider. Simply relying on someone on the staff who “speaks the language” or turning to one of the online translation engines is almost sure to lead to problems.

Plus, such options cannot help with critical website decisions like choosing an international-ready technology solution or ensuring an appropriate user experience. Finding the best answer often requires an expert’s help asking the right questions.

Good health!