Healthcare is a delicate subject matter and it must be taken with the highest degree of care. A wrongly given instruction or a poorly explained health plan can have a serious impact on the health of a patient.
In the US, this is very well understood and there are several regulations that require medical institutions to provide language access services to patients with limited English proficiency. To read more on this topic, take a look at this article in our Blog.
We have years of experience offering Healthcare Translation Services and in this article, we will share with you an overview of what is important to consider when translating Healthcare content.
Understanding Healthcare Translations
Healthcare communications and documents addressed to the patient will contain information that it’s critical for the receiver: Diagnoses, Instructions, Medication, etc. That’s why it is paramount that the patient understands perfectly every piece of information directed to them: The translations need to be patient-focused. A patient-focused translation is simple in its language (5th to 6th-grade reading level) and ensures that the information and instructions are understood by everybody regardless of their education level.
The tone must be formal, but as warm and friendly as possible. It is important to be professional without losing the human touch. We must not forget that we’re addressing a person that might be going through health problems, or aiding a relative or close person who needs medical help.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US, and institutions in the US will usually translate their documents into what is called “US Spanish”. It is a neutral flavor of Spanish that uses some English rules and conventions that are familiar to Spanish speakers in the US.
Considering that America’s Spanish-speaking immigration comes from different Countries and Regions, sometimes choices need to be made in order to keep terminology as generic as possible.
For more information on US Spanish, you can visit the following article.
Tips to getting Healthcare Translations right
Here is a list of points that will guide you through your next Healthcare translation project.
Healthcare content can be a bit repetitive and have some terms and parts such as disclosures that come up frequently across different documents. If that’s the case of the content you need to translate, it may be worth investing in creating a glossary.
A Glossary is a list of very important terms that are carefully translated, reviewed, and approved by the end client, that is to be used by all the translators and editors involved in the project. Creating a glossary isn’t expensive and it is a great tool to ensure quality and consistency.
There need to be clear instructions regarding Healthcare Plans’ names: do they need to be translated? And If so, is there a translation that is already approved and in use?
Regarding medication, it is important to determine if drug names need to be translated, if they should be kept in English, or if the translations should use the commercial name.
Phone numbers also require a special mention, it must be clear if in order to receive attention in their own language patients need to dial a different phone number than English-speaking patients.
Last but not least, it is always important to have clear instructions for date and number format, since it can be a source of confusion. For example, imagine having a doctor’s appointment on May 6th, 2021. In English, the date is written as 05/06/2021 (MONTH/DAY/YEAR) while in Latin America it would be written as 06/05/2021 (DAY/MONTH/YEAR). This is just an example of how small details can end up causing problems.
Just like with everything related to healthcare, the most important thing is to put the patient’s needs first.
This is achieved by mentally putting ourselves in the place of a person who is vulnerable and needs medical attention. This person needs to be able to understand what their healthcare plan covers, what’s their provider response to a claim, the diagnosis they receive, and what medication has been prescribed.
We hope that you find this information useful and that it helps you in your continuing efforts to take care of your patient’s health and wellbeing.
At Australis Localization, we have translated millions of words of Healthcare content and we consider it a subject dear to us. If you have any questions or would like to receive a quote, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org