Tag Archive for medical translation services

‘Tis the Season to Start Planning for Open Enrollment

As a result of the Affordable Care Act’s impact on the 2014 landscape, health plans are preparing their mandated documents such as the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) earlier than usual. The ANOC/EOC is a critical component of your plan as it provides details about coverage, costs and more. This may sound simple enough, but this year insurance plans need to take into account more than just earlier timelines. As a result of the recent reform, 12 million new customers and 11 million small businesses will flood the insurance market in January. Many of these new consumers will come from households that are not only more culturally and linguistically diverse, but that have never had health insurance before.

Navigating the new health exchanges and healthcare system is challenging enough for seasoned professionals, let alone for someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language. And with October and the open enrollment period right around the corner, health plans will soon need to find new strategies to effectively communicate with their new and diverse customers. Bridging the language gap is essential to ensuring diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare, because true understanding happens when people can internalize the material in their native language. So whether it’s ANOC/EOC’s, SBC’s, or any of the other numerous communications your plan will soon be sending out, the key is to ensure that you are truly reaching your market in a meaningful, effective way.

Learn more about VIA’s ANOC/EOC translations and how your plan can save up to 20%.


Tips for Creating Readable Health Materials in any Language

To help increase readability, consider these 4 tips when creating healthcare materials in other languages.

1. Health materials should focus on key messages and what patients need to know. Best practices include:
• Write clearly and in an active voice.
• Use familiar vocabulary and simple terminology.
• Use short sentences.
• Use graphics, videos or pictures that “show” rather than “tell.”
• Keep materials at a fourth- to sixth-grade level.

2. Employ readability tools to analyze and ensure the proper literacy levels.
• Word processing applications such as Microsoft Word can automatically determine the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and readability ranking.
• Because readability formulas used in English can’t be applied to foreign language documents, professional translators should utilize various other language-specific assessment tests.
• For Spanish, consider the Huerta Readability formula (HRE), an assessment similar to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test designed for analyzing texts in Spanish.

3. Health materials should be culturally relevant.
• Use images and examples that reflect the target audience. Pictures should display people of their own demographic rather than a generic stock photo of an “ethnic” person or family.
• If menu/food recommendations are included, they should reflect items that are relevant to that audience’s daily diet.
• Do not use slang or cultural references that may be unfamiliar to an immigrant or LEP population.
• Initiate a community review to test materials for comprehension and effectiveness.

4. Use professional linguists.
Materials should be translated by professional linguists and reviewed for grammatical inconsistencies and readability, important details that are beyond the capabilities of machine or computer-based translations.



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,

Effective medical translation is not only about the words

Medical translation demands getting it as absolutely close to perfect as possible. The words have to be right, but they are just part of the equation. The nuances and subtleties, slang and idiom that distinguish one culture from another are other important facets. Truly effective medical translators know this. What some may not know is that even the formatting of your materials can have an impact on how well you are able to reach your patients.

Apparent incidentals like fonts, line breaks, graphics, and other elements can actually have different meanings in different cultures. In Japan, for example, italicizing will only confuse most readers. And if you wish to identify something as important or want to show respect, it’s best to use additional punctuation marks or double-width characters. Other characteristics like bolding, underlining, and stylized character sets are also issues in Japanese and should be used sparingly.

These are important considerations. Overlooked, they can impact the effectiveness of what might be an otherwise accurate language translation. Identifying and responding to these details is one of the places your language services provider (LSP) can really add value. Work with them to make sure the design of your materials is strengthening, and not undermining, your message.

Till next time,

Medical translation aided by emerging smart phone apps

In an astonishingly short period of time we have graduated from cell phones to smart phones. Aptly named, the latter devices make their predecessors seem like the communication equivalent of the game Pong.

In the last year, with the spread of the iPhone and competitors like the Android, applications for smart phones have exploded, including development of a number of promising translation tools. Apple’s AppStore alone boasts more than a dozen translation applications. Two that deserve special attention are those from Jibbigo and PicTranslator.

The Jibbigo application converts English speech into Spanish or the other way around. Users speak into the phone in one language and the phone answers with the translated version. PicTranslator employs the phone’s built-in camera. You simply take a picture of the text you wish to translate, choose the desire language, and the application does the rest. It can also help with guidance in pronunciation.

The tools are not designed specifically for healthcare environments, and they are in no way a replacement for trained medical translation professionals. But it is easy to see how such applications could prove useful—and perhaps even critical—in circumstances where time or resources did not afford medical staff any other option.

As mainstream technology continues to evolve, we should be on the lookout for those tools that can help medical personnel ensure that they are always saying what they mean to their patients.

Check out these links for demos of Jibbigo and PicTranslator.

Recent studies conclude that race impacts cancer care

A series of recent studies reveals some alarming realities about apparent inequities in healthcare access among different races in the U.S. The investigations addressed cancer care specifically, looking into how racial factors, in addition to financial influences, impact diagnosis, treatment and survival.

In one report conducted at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, it was determined that race played a larger role than insurance in a woman’s getting a timely breast cancer diagnosis.

Of the almost 1,000 women examined, the study found that white women with private insurance waited on average almost 16 days between testing and diagnosis, while privately insured black women waited more than 27 days and Hispanics more than 51 days. The numbers are even more disparate when you get to women on Medicare/Medicaid (11.9, 39.4, and 70.8 days respectively) and uninsured women (44.5, 59.7, and 66.5 days, respectively).

The research team, surprised at the results, concluded that the current barriers, especially those faced by black and Hispanic women, and by extension, we assume, non-white women generally, deserve additional study.

One of those barriers has already been identified and is not surprising to multicultural marketers: cultural differences. We can predict as well that lurking just behind that heading reside the myriad challenges attendant to embracing and overcoming linguistic and language differences.

For more on the studies and what they found, check out the HealthDay story.

Till next time,

Mark your calendar for free medical translation webinar Sept. 16

If healthcare organizations hope to thrive in today’s multicultural melting pot, they have to meet the language access needs of their limited-English proficient (LEP) patients. This is not news to most of you. You deal with that challenge every day. But true success means creating a medical translation program that is economically sustainable, no small thing in today’s world of shrinking budgets and growing demand.

For those who know they can do better when it comes to serving their LEP patients, but aren’t always sure how to pay for the support that requires, viaLanguage is offering a free webinar entitled “Tips to Streamline and Save on Your Healthcare Translations.” Here’s the when:

Sept. 16th at 8:00 a.m. (HT), 11:00 a.m. (PT), 1:00 p.m. (CT), 2:00 p.m. (ET)

As for the what, the webinar will explore new techniques and tips for streamlining your translation process, without compromising the quality or effectiveness of your communications. Topics include:

• Innovative practices for ensuring accurate, readable health materials, including health literacy and cultural assessment
• Recommendations for cutting time and costs while maintaining quality
• Incorporating translation tools and Translation Memory into your projects
• Machine translation today – is it free?

Maybe you’re just getting started with medical translation or perhaps you just want to get the most up-to-date information on today’s best practices. Either way, we hope you can join us!

Good health!

When it comes to medical translation, a single word can make a difference

If you are medical translation professional or a limited English proficient (LEP) patient, you know firsthand how important—and how fraught with possible misunderstanding—translation of medications can be.

It can start at the very beginning with many failing to appreciate the difference between such fundamental words as “medication” and “drug.” Contrary to the words’ regular interchangeable use, they are not synonyms. Rather, the former designates those substances that have a pharmacological effect, while drugs, for our purposes here, are the products into which those medications are made.

As a consequence, some medical professionals use International Non-proprietary Names (INN) to refer to medications/drugs when creating their patient materials. Others rely on commercial brand names. Still others use common names that are understood in the U.S. but largely unfamiliar elsewhere. (e.g., acetaminophen is a widely used name in the U.S., though it is known as paracetamol elsewhere around the world).

It is easy to see how such a situation can compromise the accuracy and clarity that is necessary for safe and effective medical translation. More importantly, such a failure can have profound effects on the ability of LEP patients to make informed decisions about their health. And this is a risk we simply cannot afford to take.

Good health!

Informative resources shine light on the challenges of medical translation

Translation is more than exchanging one set of words for another. As anyone who has worked with translation or translators knows, it depends on the language, the culture, the communication vehicle, and a host of other important details. It is also impacted greatly by the industry for which the translation is being done.

For a variety of reasons, medical translation may pose the greatest number of challenges for the uninitiated language services professional. From the use of obscure medical terminology to the risk to patients if translations are not absolutely accurate, medical translation requires a special knowledge and understanding.

If you are considering joining the industry, or perhaps you work with medical translators and want a window into the work they do, Medical Translation Step by Step by Vicent Montalt and Maria Gonzalez Davis offers a clear and effective study of the discipline.

Published by St. Jerome Publishing, the 250-page book offers a comprehensive and practical look at medical translation, exploring a range of important issues, including medical writing, translation practice, and exploration of different methods for learning.

For another perspective, visit Sarah Dillon’s There’s something about translation blog and her interview with Andrew Bell. Bell, who operates AAA Scandinavian Translation and specializes in medical/pharmaceutical translation services, shares his experience working in the field.

It’s good for all of us to appreciate that what we do is important. And it’s good for those who call on our services to remember that translation is more than a simple exchange of words, especially when it comes to people’s health.

Good health!

How to translate working with communities into giving back to them

At viaLanguage, we like to believe that at its heart medical translation, and in fact all translation, is really about building community. That’s what effective communication makes possible. So, I guess you could say we sort of have a community-minded focus just by virtue of the work we do.

Looking at it this way, it makes sense that we would feel a natural desire to give back. And I wanted to take this post to formally applaud all the people at viaLanguage, and beyond, who find the time and make the effort to do that during the year. Cheers to all of you!

Are you looking for some philanthropic ideas for your company? Here are few organizations and efforts we support:

Humane Society – viaLanguage donates one paid day to each employee to support their favorite non-profit. The company also offers an annual team volunteer opportunity. This year it’s the Humane Society—because pets are also part of the community!
Operation Cornbread – viaLanguage supports Sisters of the Road Café in Portland, Ore., as part of that organization’s annual matching program, Operation Cornbread, which keeps food coming to the needy during the peak summer months.
• Annual Translation Grants – We offer in-kind translation grants for organizations reaching out to limited English proficient (LEP) communities, both Healthcare and K12.
Heifer International – We provide annual support to a needy family by purchasing and donating a cow. Learn more about this unique program in an earlier post.

As the Oregon Lottery once said, though I paraphrase, “Your odds of winning are 550,000 to one—significantly higher than if you don’t play.” And it’s the same with making a difference. Act and you can help.

Good health!