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Translation Industry Trends in the Post-pandemic Healthcare Industry

Author: Andreea Balaoiu

Translation Industry Trends
in the Post-pandemic Healthcare Industry

As we’re getting closer and closer to the fourth year in the Covid 19 context, the medical translation industry has a lot to look forward to. The past few years have seen an unprecedented global healthcare crisis and a milestone for medical translation.

The post-pandemic period has ushered in a host of new trends, including the rise of machine translation, an increased focus on quality control and validation, and a growing demand for multilingual content within the medical industry.

Let’s take a look at some of the post-pandemic Healthcare Localization trends and how you can anticipate them to ensure consistent growth for your business.

Trend #1: The Hybrid Future - Telehealth

The Slator 2021 Language Industry Market Report explores the following key questions: “How did the Covid pandemic change the language industry in 2020?” and “Which changes will stick around?”, depicting a growing hybrid trend within the industry, defined from remote working practices to accelerated technology adoption.

As per an article on Telehealth, presenting the World Health Organisation’s coining of the term, “telehealth is the ‘delivery of health care services, where patients and providers are separated by distance. Telehealth uses ICT for the exchange of information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health professionals”.

Telemedicine or telehealth can be classified based on the mode of communication as (i) audio, video or text-based; (ii) timing of information transmitted as synchronous (real-time) or asynchronous (store and forward) exchange; (iii) purpose of consult as first time or follow up and (iv) nature of the relationship of parties on the call such as patient and medical practitioner, caregiver and medical practitioner, medical practitioner and medical practitioner or health worker and medical practitioner. It can also be classified based on the type of health services delivered (mental health, dermatology, general medicine, physiotherapy, etc.).”

The perpetual necessity for professional, human-driven medical translation is an integral aspect of any effective healthcare and medical industry business, as nowadays, "remote medical tourism" plays a more prominent role than ever.

Within the pharma industry, high-quality, professional medical translation has never been more valuable than now as the influx of pharmaceutical products from developed countries on international markets is skyrocketing. Healthcare and drug-related study translations involve highly specialized medical and technical terminology, inaccessible on a day-to-day basis by the average lay reader, so the demand for professional medical document translators who are fluent in complex medical terminology both in the source and target languages is relentless.

Trend #2: Unlocking postcrisis growth & innovation

A recent McKinsey Article states that “Prioritizing innovation today is the key to unlocking postcrisis growth”.

While the post-pandemic economic downturn has led many companies to focus on four main areas: shoring up their core business, pursuing known opportunity spaces, conserving their monetary resources, and minimizing risk, the major trend for businesses seeking growth in this changing landscape includes:

  • Adaptation to shifting customer needs
  • Addressing new growth opportunities
  • Allocating resources toward innovation
  • Maintaining the competitive momentum while strengthening the foundation for the recovery period

Thus, the new standards will require medical language professionals to play an even more significant role in implementing and maintaining them globally, ensuring that all medical information is accurate, consistent, and accessible, aiding healthcare organizations to adapt to the changes in their translation processes as mandated by the new standards.

Trend #3: Expanding the Linguistic Portfolio

According to an article on the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic in the Healthcare industry, “Before the pandemic, around half of the world's population did not have access to essential healthcare, and this number has been increased by the pandemic. Healthcare systems across the globe need to become more accessible and be prepared for future pandemic-like events in a way that will reduce the impact on the management of other diseases.”

Europe’s Machine Translation Market Report also states that “the COVID-19 pandemic has positively impacted the European machine translation industry growth due to the rising need to access critical public health information that may not be available in the native language of citizens. Several government organizations have made crucial information regarding pandemic risks available in many languages. For instance, the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) in Germany published information regarding COVID-19 in German, English, Russian, and Turkish. To overcome language barriers and provide invaluable support resulted in an increased demand for machine translation software.

This important global trend dictates the value of expanding the Healthcare industry's linguistic coverage, by adding new languages to the medical Translation and Localization spectrum. The medical translation niche is a particularly fast-growing industry, and language service providers operating in this niche must be prepared to deliver top-quality services in all major, as well as minor linguistic clusters.

Trend #4: AI-driven Medical Translation & Localization

In an article on the topic of “Translating artificial intelligence into clinical practice”, “For this breakthrough technology, it is necessary to rationally recognize the advantages and insufficiencies of present medical AI. Because the reported outperformance of AI mainly came from laboratories with high-quality and well-structured data, the initial real-world application of AI is recommended for solving well-defined problems and must be performed under strict quality control for safety.”

However, despite the aforementioned challenges, there are a couple of relevant examples of multilingual AI implementation amid the Covid-19 crisis. According to an article published in apptek.com, a leading company in the field of automatic speech recognition (ASR) and Neural Machine Translation (NMT), their platform “facilitated multilingual communication to and from the German language in hospitals and emergency rooms throughout Germany, as part of their artificial intelligence-based HYKIST project, a “real-time automatic speech interpreting and translation system designed for language mediators to have more effective healthcare communications with non-German speaking patients”.

Another relevant source mentioned the UK-based Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust which employed AI translation technology as part of its video consultation platform, aiming to improve accessibility for non-English or limited-English speaking patients during their virtual meetings: “Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has begun using a live translation service within its video consultation platform to improve accessibility for non-English-speaking patients, whilst also allowing the trust to make up to 90% cost-savings on traditional translation services.

The trust deployed the eClinic video consultation platform from the market-leading patient communications provider, Healthcare Communications, in August 2020 to reduce the number of patients visiting the hospital during the Coronavirus pandemic.”

The Bottom Line

In this article, we briefly explored the main trends in the current, post-pandemic global Healthcare Translation and Localization landscape, observing the linguistic and social challenges, as well as some key business practices and features of medical translations, acknowledging the ever-growing potential of the translation field for stakeholders looking to expand their business reach worldwide.

For nearly two decades, AD VERBUM has been working diligently to raise awareness and develop its own medical translation linguistic basis, delivering extensive and quality-oriented medical translation services while navigating the twists and turns of this ever-growing maze.

We do hope that these facts and best practices have inspired you to seek out more about this diverse field of medical translations, as well as given you a glance at its business potential and the value behind translating medical materials with the use of an LSP certified to work with medical content in these unprecedented times.

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