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Online Translation Tools: Will It Make or Break Your Healthcare Business?

Verified Market Research reported that the global healthcare industry would reach 665.37 billion USD by 2028. But even with the advancement of technology, language barriers are one of the most prevailing issues in the industry, as it directly affects the quality of healthcare for non-English speaking patients.

Today, we will discuss the issues that the medical translation services sector is facing and how machine translation post-editing (MTPE) can keep up with the ever-increasing healthcare demand for translations and multilingual content.

To learn more about this, keep on reading!

Google Translate Can’t Substitute Medical Translators

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Now, you might be thinking, if language barriers are such a prevailing issue, why can’t medical and healthcare practitioners use online translation tools like Google Translate? 

Despite being under a neural machine translation program, it saw that Google Translate had a 55% accuracy rate for its medical translations for medical instructions in the Armenian language. Its accuracy rate got lower with less common languages. The major problem with overlying on machine translation is that it doesn’t consider the context of the words or phrases it’s translating.

That’s why most medical translation services still hire certified medical translators trained in translating medical terms. Machines can only go so far in translating medical text. Without the medical and cultural context, there’s a higher chance of inaccuracies and mistranslations.

The Current State and Challenges in Medical Translation Services    

The pandemic intensified the language barriers and communication issues that were already present in many medical facilities and programs. According to Ethnologue, there are currently around 7,151 living languages. From the sheer number of languages found worldwide, government and non-profit organizations were struggling to spread life-saving information to non-English speakers or directly communicate with physicians regarding their symptoms and medical background.

Accessibility was one of the challenges seen in the earlier days of the pandemic, leading to the rise of the telehealth industry, which had a market value of 144.38 billion USD in 2020. The global medical translation services sector supported these new technologies with HIPAA-compliant medical translators who have studied medical terminologies and trained in transforming any medical content at a fast turnaround time. Medical translators also assisted in serving by being interpreters who bridged the language barriers between medical practitioners and patients through phone calls and telemedicine.

Although creating multilingual telemedicine is one of the many ways medical establishments have begun to make healthcare more accessible to non-English speaking patients, it hasn’t fully resolved issues that have been prevalent even before the pandemic. Besides lack of funding and resources, the question of quality in medical translations with the rise of machine translation has been a concern of many experts.

As mentioned, conventional online translations aren’t accurate when translating medical documents, especially for uncommon languages. The translation industry has been criticized for over-relying on technology leading to poor translation quality. Over the years, AI and machine translation development have significantly improved, leading many individuals to speculate that these technologies will replace human translators.  

However, we propose that this is not the case, and later, we will explain why.

How MTPE Accelerates The Production of Multilingual Medical Content in the Healthcare Sector

Before we start, let’s first define what is machine translation post-editing (MTPE)? It’s the process of translating text through machine translation technology and having it post-edited by translators. This way of translating content is often used for high-demand sectors that require immediate translations.

Because machine translation has made the translation process run smoothly and more quickly, medical translation services have begun to do machine translation post-editing to keep up with piling demands from the healthcare sector. But that doesn’t mean that the quality of translation has lowered due to machine translation because native medical translators post-editing the content, ensuring that the translations are accurate and contextually make sense.

Compared to other industries, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the translation industry’s job outlook from 2020 to 2030 was 24%, making it faster than others. And although it saw that general healthcare and surgical hospitals as only 0.09% in terms of employment, it’s still considered the highest concentration of employment in the industry. The reason is that it’s substantially lower than other industries like the science and technology industry, which has 2.69% of industry employment. It could be due to the lack of linguists specializing in medical translation services.

This shortage of certified medical translators is due to translators needing to undergo extensive training and certification before they can perform medical translations. 

This scarcity of linguists specializing in the medical domain has resulted in MTPE being the best option. It saves time, ensures that terminologies are consistent, and helps improve translation quality. Often, their role is to oversee that translation output and ensure it’s up to standard.

Because of this, even with the most advanced machine translation available on the market, it can’t replace medical translators. Just like with telehealth platforms, it can’t replace human interaction and sensibility, but it should be used to enhance communication and improve healthcare quality. 

Currently, the medical and translation sectors have to face the issue of increasing the number of trained medical translators while equipping them with the training to adapt to the ever-advancement of technology. As for now, healthcare businesses must coordinate with medical translation experts and develop ways to make connectivity and communication run smoothly.

Conclusion

Despite how convenient it is now to translate text through online translation tools, they aren’t a hundred percent accurate with their translations. The pandemic exposed language barriers and communication gaps in the healthcare industry that haven’t decreased over the years despite technological advancement. 

At present, medical translation services and the telehealth industry are creating ways to increase accessibility to healthcare for non-English speaking patients. Even though there is a shortage of certified medical translators, MTPE has made it possible for translators to accommodate the increasing demand for medical translation without compromising its quality. Even though translating documents through machine translation without the medical translator’s input is the quickest way, what’s at stake is not only the welfare of the patient but also their trust in their healthcare provider.

Healthcare Business Today is a leading online publication that covers the business of healthcare. Our stories are written from those who are entrenched in this field and helping to shape the future of this industry. Healthcare Business Today offers readers access to fresh developments in health, medicine, science, and technology as well as the latest in patient news, with an emphasis on how these developments affect our lives.

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