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Why accurate communication is vital in the healthcare and pharma sectors

Accurate communication is vital in the healthcare and pharma sectors
in Healthcare

All businesses have to contend with challenges and risks of some description, but it could be argued that organisations in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors face higher stakes than their counterparts in other industries.

In these markets, the need to deliver a certain level of service and adhere to strict rules and regulations can literally be a matter of life and death.

It is vital for all organisations operating in the healthcare and pharma sectors to maintain extremely high standards as far as their outbound communications are concerned. Here are some of the chief reasons why:

High stakes

It should go without saying that protecting the health and safety of patients is the number one priority in the healthcare and pharma industries.

This has a number of real-world ramifications and operational consequences for businesses and service providers, one of which is that the information you are putting out into the public domain must be 100 per cent accurate and up to date, with no scope for any ambiguity, lack of clarity or potentially misleading messages.

Packaging inserts and labelling on pharmaceutical products are just two examples of communications that must be meticulous and correct in order to protect patient health.

This can be a big enough challenge in one language, but it becomes even more demanding when the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of various languages are thrown into the mix.

Complex terminology

Healthcare and pharma communications often need to feature complex scientific language, with terms and descriptions that have very specific meanings but can often overlap.

To give an example, in one case, a patient in the US was wrongly treated for intoxication, rather than poisoning, because of a poor Spanish-to-English translation. That individual suffered lifelong health effects from the incorrect treatment and, as a result, received a $71 million compensation payout.

This illustrates how medical terms can be closely related yet very distinct, particularly when it comes to treatment. Without accurate translation, certain pieces of technical language can be easily confused, raising the risk of some very severe consequences.

The demands of face-to-face engagement

It’s important to remember that healthcare and pharma communications is a broad area that encompasses many disciplines and responsibilities. Beyond written information, there is often a need for healthcare providers to engage in face-to-face, spoken conversations with patients, often about sensitive and delicate subjects.

This can become very difficult when there are language barriers involved, with health organisations and professionals having to ensure that the correct message is adequately conveyed while taking into account the personal and emotional side of the conversation.

Getting adverse event reporting right

Any healthcare or pharma organisation that wants to maintain full regulatory compliance and transparency needs to place a big emphasis on adverse event reporting.

Information about medication errors, adverse events in clinical trials or product quality complaints must be communicated promptly and with absolute accuracy. This is vital to show that the business has maintained full disclosure and not held back any potentially significant data.

Again, this crucial task becomes even more demanding and complicated when the unique aspects of different languages are taken into account.

So what should you look for in a translation partner?

As we have seen, there are a number of reasons why it’s extremely important for organisations in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries to get their communications exactly right.

For large companies and institutions whose work often involves using different languages, finding the right translation partner is a key part of this challenge. So which qualities should you expect from your language services provider?

  • Experience – Look for a company that has been there and done it all before, with proven results showing how it has helped organisations such as your own overcome the kinds of challenges you face on a regular basis.
  • Specialist knowledge – Translation providers working in niche areas such as pharmacovigilance must be able to show that they can offer the specialist knowledge and skills required to ensure the message being conveyed is the correct one.
  • Efficiency – It’s not uncommon for healthcare and pharma communications to demand quick turnaround times – if an adverse event needs to be reported as promptly as possible, for example. This requires maximum efficiency from translation services, as speed must not come at the expense of quality. Look for a company that is making use of the latest technologies to drive efficiency.
  • Confidentiality – Considering the potential sensitivity of much of the data handled by healthcare and pharmaceutical organisations, complete confidentiality is a valuable trait in a translation partner.

By using these and other relevant criteria to select your translation services provider, you can feel assured that all of your communications, regardless of the language, meet the highest standards.


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