Medical translation services cover a broad range of topics. They could target everything from companies seeking out research and development documentation to doctors needing pamphlets for patients. Even though the categories of medical translation differ, they have many common challenges. Privacy, accuracy, and the risks associated with publishing incorrect information are all chief among them.
Telemedicine is also growing in prevalence, primarily due to coronavirus. Nonurgent virtual care grew by 4,345% between March 2 and April 14, 2020. This increased access to medicine has driven the need for global services, especially when translating this medical material for users. As the demand for medical translation services grows, it will be even more challenging to identify and select the right provider. By examining the challenges inherent in all segments of the industry, it’s possible to choose the best translators by focusing on what they offer as solutions to those problems.
Special Considerations in Medical Translation Services
Medical translations are not comprised of simple terms. The person handling them needs not just a deep understanding of the language, but also knowledge of complex topics. Aside from that, there are specific concerns related to:
- Privacy: Varying laws throughout the world protect personal health information, and almost all of them require strict control of records access and information transmission. On top of that, companies developing medications or new devices need the utmost confidentiality to avoid the risk of intellectual property (IP) theft that could cost them billions in lost revenue.
- Audience: The targeted audience makes a huge difference in medical translation services. Is the document for a layperson, or is it directed at a specialist? Without understanding exactly who will read it, it can be challenging to manage the right level of complexity and appropriate tone.
- Accuracy: While other types of writing may be flexible, medical translation is not. The translation must be 100% accurate to the original and make contextual sense. Someone with medical knowledge must handle the translation to ensure the needed level of expertise is provided.
- Timing: Medicine works on strict deadlines and notification windows. The ability to manage workflows and keep the information up to date is essential. Otherwise, providers could run afoul of required alerts or miss crucial deadlines in filing for patents and receiving market approval.
- Risk: The consequences of an inaccurate translation are significant. An incorrectly written set of instructions or contradictions could cost lives or injure consumers. Long-term consequences could be catastrophic.
These medical translation service challenges limit the qualified pool of linguists. It’s essential to seek out providers who have proactively addressed these issues within their company infrastructure to avoid problems later.
Managing Medical Translation Challenges
The best medical translation services don’t come from a single linguist. Instead, they’re delivered via an all-encompassing localization management platform that offers features designed to address challenges inherent in the medical industry. Specifically, the platform should provide:
- End-to-end management/encryption: Emailing content back and forth could be a significant privacy breach and in some cases, may even be illegal. A single, centralized workspace that limits the ability to download content protects the private nature of the information. The platform should also include strong encryption that makes the data unusable if accessed by an unauthorized party.
- Expertise: Linguists specifically knowledgeable in medical terminology ensure accuracy in translation. The top translation services will have industry experts who understand the complex details and seamlessly translate them to the target language.
- Product-specific knowledge: Before the chosen linguist begins the job, it’s wise to invest some time in having them study the company and its offerings. This process helps them learn needed context that will aid them in slanting the content to the right audience. The ability to review completed work, rather than merely working on standalone strings, is important to ensuring quality is upheld, so it’s wise to seek out a program with preview capabilities.
- Workflow control: Lots of translation time is lost when sending files back and forth, setting up corporate lexicons, or following up on projects. A translation project management system will allow real-time visibility of all content in progress to help stay ahead of deadlines. This strategy can even take an exception-based management approach, where project managers need to only intervene when there is a problem.
- Quality assurance: Quality assurance is the final check of finished content to ensure it’s free of errors and has a logical flow. This step reduces inaccuracies that can put individuals at risk. Corrections made can also be applied to the company’s corporate lexicon and translation memory to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Building in these checks and balances helps to ensure accuracy in medical translation services. It can also make them more effective by streamlining tasks that are known time-wasters. This all helps linguists stay focused on the content. Accuracy, privacy, and consumer safety are all preserved by using an end-to-end solution for translation.