There are few translation subject areas where inaccuracy can have such devastating consequences than with medical / healthcare language translation services. Accuracy and expertise are absolutely the name of the game in this regard. But how do you determine which service provider is the best fit? After all, not only would switching provider prove to be costly and troublesome if you’re unhappy with your initial pick, if there’s a mistake, then your firm is on the hook.
Sophisticated clients look at a range of factors to judge the merits of a potential translation service provider. If you’re in the market for medial language services, read on to learn more about these factors. These criteria are relevant for a wide range of translation areas, from medical journals, case studies and clinical protocols to consent forms, manuals and patient records.
1: Make sure the translation service aligns with the scale and scope of your project
You may get on very well with a certain freelance translator or a boutique agency and be pleased with the work they produce, but if you’re working on a multi-market medical trial with tens of thousands of participants, you’ll require the services of a multi-language, multi-market translation agency that’s well-versed in cross-border collaboration. Do you want multilingual translation services, which will require medical and translation expertise in several markets, or do you want to translate between one language pair? Do you need medical document translation services or translation and localisation? Ensure the service provision can match your needs. International translation companies usually offer a far more comprehensive service menu than a domestic boutique agency. Timescale is another important factor. Does the translation house have enough staff to handle large-scale projects quickly, if required? These are crucial questions to ask.
2: Look for internationally recognised standards of quality, such as accreditation, and a good level of data security
ISO 17100:2015 certified translation services adhere to top-quality international standards. This ensures a set of established quality-control procedures are followed, which results in translation that can be trusted. Look out for this level of quality assurance. Also, check whether the translators are trained in both the life sciences and translation. The quality of any medical or healthcare translation depends on these two aspects more than any others. Different languages have different certifications. For example, in the US, Spanish medical certification takes the form of CoreCHI™ and CHI™-Spanish accreditation. Check that the translation agency has the right accreditation in every language you are likely to need. There can be no gaps. These certifications ensure rigorous standards are adhered to. For many, there are online registries you can check, such as The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters or the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI). Ensure your potential partner operates to the strictest data security standards and adheres to data privacy protocols. Medical trial data is a valuable corporate resource and a target for cybercriminals, for example.
3: Check for relationship chemistry
You may come across the most qualified translation house in the world, but if you don’t get on with the staff you’ll be dealing with on a frequent basis, the translation results will likely not pass muster. Relationship chemistry is commonly cited as a top-four determining factor when brands select an agency. The best agency understands your business inside out, and is able to anticipate your needs before you do. While you don’t want a ‘yes’ agency, you also don’t want any antagonism.
4: Great customer support
The minutiae of translating require intensive and collaborative relations. Checking terminology, securing revisions and setting deadlines all go much more smoothly when you have a rapport with your service provider. Trial projects are a great way of checking the chemistry with a potential translation partner.
5: Holistic service suite
It takes a lot of time to manage multiple third-party agencies. What with multiple marketing, communications and public relations goals to achieve, large medical firms typically deal with several agencies. While availing of the services of a boutique translation agency may seem appealing – after all, who doesn’t like bespoke service – an agency that can handle translation, localisation and any of the other myriad tasks large medical and healthcare firms need to complete, is preferable. This comes down to efficiency.
6: Good customer feedback for projects in the same field
You wouldn’t consider securing the services of a translation agency that had no healthcare experience to handle your complex medical translation project. When it comes to experience, it’s a matter of the more the merrier. If your potential partner has done work with any of the big 10 firms, then that’s a sign they are a good medical translation partner. The ratio of good versus negative reviews is another indicator of quality. Another indicator of quality is longevity. A poor medical translation service provider is not going to stay in business long. Therefore, look for a translation agency with a long track record of mostly good reviews.
7: Professional onboarding process
This step is incredibly important. Signing the contract for healthcare language services is only the start of the relationship. From here, the onboarding process sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. Clarity is paramount, so everyone understands what’s expected of them and the parameters of translations are clear. A comprehensive onboarding process is the sign of a good translation agency.
9: Experts in your topic area
Healthcare and medicine are vast subject areas. From open-heart surgery, dentistry and medical trials to psychiatry, midwifery and vaccinations, if you’re dealing with a niche area, you want to make sure your healthcare language translation services partner is well versed in that topic. Look for case studies that are in the same subject area as you work in.
Getting medical translation right is a difficult balancing act predicated on the ‘do no harm’ concept. But getting it wrong can end up causing a lot of harm. For example, one British lady endured an unnecessary double mastectomy in Spain because of a translation error. However, by following the tips above, you’ll be in the best position to pick the right translator for your project. For a no obligation chat about medical translation services, get in touch.