Tag Archive for LSP

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

Machine translation not the silver bullet for medical translation challenges

Much energy and attention has been and continues to be focused on how best to communicate with the increasingly influential Hispanic audience in the U.S. One thing that has been learned is that the Hispanic community is, in many cases, frustrated with those communications. For example, because of the poor quality of so many Spanish translated websites, many deem English sites a better alternative even though not their native language.

A recent post on the Hispanic Online Marketing blog expresses concern that the focus on machine translation, including the much-discussed Google Translate, is unfortunately poised to make matters worse.

The prospect of simply inserting your organization’s website content into Google Translate and receiving in return an effective, accurate translation—and for free—is simply irresistible to many. In reality, it echoes the adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Because as Hispanic Online Marketing duly points out, sites that opt to use this tool and others like it tend to carry disclaimers alerting you that what you’re reading may not be accurate or reliable. How, one wonders, is this in any way serving the audience?

Such a move may save you money, but in time, a poorly translated site will cost a great deal more. Language is subtle and as much a product of culture and context as words. The reality is that only a human translator, and one with sufficient experience, can effectively meet today’s translation challenges.

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!

The right language services provider often starts with a recommendation

You’re in healthcare, not healthcare translation. So how are you to know who is the best language services providers for your audiences? It’s an important question and one you want ideally to make just once. So, treat it like your patients treat finding the right doctor: Do your homework.

The best and most reliable way to start is to solicit recommendations from colleagues. You’re looking for someone who has experience in your field, and who has worked with the agency in question.

You can also go directly to the agencies themselves. Experienced agencies place a lot of importance on their reputation and a good one will be happy to provide references. In addition, companies that bid on large translation contracts are often required to provide resumes for translators with specific qualifications. A review of individual translators’ resumes is a great way to predict how your project will turn out.

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!


Looking for an LSP? Here are a few things to consider.

We’ve talked a bit in the past about what to look for when searching for or reviewing a language service provider (LSP). It’s an important decision as whoever you select will play an important role in how – and how effectively – you communicate with your patients.

While a mistranslated ad or piece of website copy for a company can discourage a sale, the same error with healthcare materials can have very real impact on the patient’s health, not to mention the costly settlements that can follow. So, it is critical to make the right choice.

For example, the agency should be familiar with government policy and regulatory compliance, including JCAHO, Title VI and HIPAA. Not only does contribute to a greater assurance that your materials will comply in all languages, but it enables the LSP to serve as not just a vendor, but as your communications partner.

Ask the LSP if they’re familiar with the following kinds of documents, all of which are likely to figure in your healthcare translation:

• Hospital release and consent forms
• Handbooks and patient education materials
• Patient billing and instruction
• Medical and immunization records
• Marketing materials
• Web sites
• Benefit summaries
• EOC documents

If they’re not, remember that your LSP, whoever it is, will be an important part of your patients’ healthcare team.

Good health!