Translation for the healthcare industry is critical in whatever type of setting. The United States is linguistically diverse and a lot of the people who need healthcare the most are those who speak little or no English at all.
The new directives of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for a language access program is supposed to address the communication issue through the mandatory provision of medical interpreters in at least 15 languages that are commonly spoken in each state, as well as translations of all materials for public use, including signage.
It is the responsibility of the medical institutions to have a contract with professional interpreters and translators to provide the necessary language services in whatever form. Medical and healthcare institutions can have over the phone interpreting, video remote interpreting or one-on-one interpreting. What is important is that patients with limited English proficiency can have access to the language services quickly.
On the other hand it is the responsibility of language service providers to ensure that their team of interpreters and translators are subject matter experts as providing language services involves the lives of patients and the reputation of the healthcare providers.
What can professional language service providers do to ensure compliance with the directives of the CMS as well as provide the best type of language service?
It is important for the language services provider (LSP) to always follow best practices when providing interpreting and translation services, whether it is for medical documents, medical websites and medical interpreting.
Accommodating the multilingual audience in the healthcare industry prompts a translation company to provide the best type of service.
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First, the company must ensure that it has a good team of subject matter experts. They should have years of professional experience in the medical field. They must also be native speakers of the language/s that are required by the clients – both the medical institutions and the patients.
Healthcare institutions on the other hand should ensure that they hire competent and professional translations agencies like Day Translations, Inc. We have been providing translation and interpreting services for the healthcare industry for a number of years now. Satisfied clients have provided us with very positive feedback that boosts the team’s desire to provide better services all the time.
Characteristics that healthcare institutions should look for
The healthcare institution should ensure that the language services company has a good track record of providing accurate medical translations and medical interpreting services. These two services are related but they are different from one another. Translation means that the person speaks the language and is able to write from one language to another following the required terminology and grammar rules.
An interpreter on the other hand is not a writer but a speaker, and has a more immediate task because interpreting is often simultaneous. Hence, it is important for the interpreter to have years of experience, expertise in a specific medical field or branch of medical practice and has knowledge of the terminology in the particular field, such as pediatrics, cardiothoracic, psychology, orthopedics, oncology, gastroenterology, pathology, neurology, urology and more.
The LSP should have style guides and glossaries to ensure that the translation of medical texts and other documents remain consistent and conform to the requirements of the medical institution. Finding the right LSP will provide you with the confidence that you are working with the best and that the LSP will be your partner in bridging the language gap between non-English speaking patients and doctors. Moreover, your LSP should prove that it has the ability to provide translations that are appropriate to the audience and their cultural sensitivities.
- Cost of the service
The medical institution should hire the right LSP suited to their practice. Doing so will help save you money and time, as they will have the translation memory tools to ensure that translations remain consistent. You and your staff can focus on providing healthcare services, knowing that medical records, diagnoses and prescriptions would be fully understood by the patients.
Note that it is now against the law for patients to use relatives to translate or interpret for them.
Aside from the three major characteristics listed above, the healthcare provider can follow these best practices:
- As a consumer, the healthcare institutions should see to it that they research the LSP well. They should know the translation process of the provider, their quality assurance process and their costs. Having the lowest charges does not mean that you are getting a good deal. You must be able to trust the translation agency to find ways to save you money without sacrificing the quality of their language service.
- In view of the requirements of the Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, you have to assess your institution’s internal needs. You have to determine the languages that the patients you serve speak. Do they belong to a specific linguistic group? What types of documents should be translated and the formats they are in. You have to work with a professional LSP to ensure that you will be able to conform to the requirements as specified in the Language Access Program of the CMS.
- Plan for the implementation of the program. Whether you need translation or interpreting services, it is important to plan it carefully because of the cost implication of the additional service to your medical practice. The requirement is for you to hire a certified language services provider whose rates would be slightly higher.
- Work with the LSP to create a translation or interpreting plan that will fit your practice and your process. Determine what kind of translation process will work for you, the frequency of translation and the style/format of the translations. Determine if you need one-on-one interpreting or your practice can work with video remote interpreting or over the phone interpreting or a combination of these types of interpreting work.
- Ensure that you provide the LSP with your own glossary and style guide. They will help ensure that the LSP will be consistent with the terms and style of the documents as well as improve the quality of the translation. The style guide tells the translator the linguistic tone and style preference of the audience – your patients and other parties that will have access to the documents.
- See to it that all your forms, general instructions, patient record, consent forms, applications and other documents to be used by the patients are already translated in the languages that the community that you serve requires. Do note that you have to translate non-standard documents as well, which may have information that is only intended to a specific person.
- These forms should be simple in design and easy to understand. You would be dealing with people who are unable to speak English, let alone understand it. It is safe to assume that most of your patients only have an elementary school level of comprehension and reading ability. Likewise, it would be easier for the translator to translate your forms.
- Participate in the translation process. It is important for you to understand the entire process so you can maximize the value of the service. Consider a backup LSP if you are working with one major LSP to ensure that you can have documents translated in an emergency.
- It is also important for the healthcare provider to be up to date with the laws and regulations. Joining a professional organization helps. It is easier to comply and instruct your LSP about new requirements if you are able to anticipate the changes in healthcare regulations.
Best practices to follow for interpreting and website translation
Healthcare providers should also consider translating their websites into the most common languages. While it is practical to assume that most of the patients are able to read and understand at elementary school level, there are also patients or relatives of patients who are able to use the web. Thus it is also necessary to have information on your site available in other languages.
The CMS lists 64 languages that are commonly spoken by non-English speakers in the United States. This affects the interpreting and translation services that the healthcare institutions must provide. The rule further states that the healthcare institutions within a state must provide language services in at least 15 of the most commonly spoken languages within each state.
For website translation and interpreting services, it is also important to work with the certified LSP provider that you will choose. You can have a contract with a professional LSP to provide all the language services for your institution, to ensure that the quality remains consistent. Some of the best practices outline in seeking a professional translation company will also apply here.
Comply with the Language Access Program of the CMS
Comply with the regulations of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and the Language Access Program of the CMS. Give us a call at 1-800-969-6853 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss your immediate translation or interpreting needs to comply with the latest CMS regulations.
Choose Day Translations. We have a team of native speakers located around the world. We are ready to serve anytime of the day, as we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have translators and interpreters who are experts in the healthcare industry. They have years of professional experience, thus they are able to provide the most accurate translations and flawless interpreting services in different medical setting.
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