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PALEX - Medical Device Translation: Localizing Equipment for Healthcare Industry

Anna Nikolaenko

Group Leader
October.11, 2021

Medical Device Translation: Localizing Equipment for Healthcare Industry

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    To succeed in the international market of medical devices, you need medical device translation and localization services. Each country has its legislation when it comes to the utilization of foreign-made medical devices. However, they all have one thing in common: all the technical documents related to the device and its software interface need to be translated or localized so that patients and doctors from across the globe know how to use it.

    A medical device usually comes with lots of documentation, such as instructions, manuals, and technical documentation; it also has a user interface and sometimes a specialized app. Every word in whole the equipment documentation needs to be translated into the language of the target market as you cannot use the device without a clear understanding of how it works.

    This article is an introduction to localization workflow and budgeting for medical devices. You will also learn what types of localization specialists will prove the best for a medical device translation.

    TABLE OF CONTENT

    (click to show)
    1. What is medical device localization?
    2. Medical device translation stages
      1. Planning
      2. Budgeting
      3. Preparing materials
      4. Translation
      5. Post-project review
    3. Documents commonly translated for healthcare
    4. How to find a translator for medical equipment?
      1. In-house experts
      2. Outsourcing experts
    5. Why is Palex the best partner?

    What is medical device localization?

    Localization of medical devices is the process of adapting texts related to medical tools linguistically and culturally for international specialists. There are multiple types of texts that relate to the medical devices industry:

    • instructions for use;
    • operating manuals;
    • installation manuals;
    • package inserts and labels;
    • software applications;
    • regulatory compliance documents;
    • marketing materials.

    When a translation of such documentation is accurate and clear, all users, medical professionals, and patients alike will properly understand how to use the devices. As a result, doctors will use the device without risking patients’ lives and without damaging highly expensive equipment.

    Medical device translation stages

    Translating the user interface of a medical device involves a complex set of actions and requires certain skills. The translator needs to be aware of medical terms and abbreviations in both the source and target language. They also need to use specialized localization tools for software translation, so that texts can be seen in the preview box to ensure the necessary context. Failing this, a life-threatening translation error might be made.

    That’s why professional translators localize medical devices in several steps, focusing on multiple details. Let’s take a closer look at each step.

    Planning

    At this stage, the customer and the provider should agree on all key details of the translation, answering the following questions:

    • who is the text’s audience?
    • into what language does it need to be translated?
    • what is the industry?
    • what is the time frame?
    • what is the type and style of documents?
    • what is the translation budget?

    Careful study of every detail means that expert translators and their clients have an identical understanding of the final result of the work. This speeds up the process by reducing time spent on edits.

    Budgeting

    The software for healthcare equipment is a large-scale product, so the translation budget for related texts must be carefully calculated. The cost of the work depends on the experience of specialists, terms, and even how professional translators are engaged: in-house or outsourced (more on this later). Other important factors affecting the cost:

    • word count;
    • language requirements (which and how many);
    • the complexity of the subject matter;
    • formatting.

    Preparing materials

    For better localization, texts should be concise and clear. For example, if your instruction consists of short sentences, then the possibility of translating something wrong will be extremely low. It’s also crucial to prepare a glossary at this stage. A glossary is a small dictionary that includes specific words related to the industry. Medicine has complicated and specific terminology, so some terms need to be defined to avoid mistakes.

    Translation

    The localization itself is not a simple translation of text from one language to another. This process has many steps and may include the following actions, in addition to translation:

    • quality control: native speakers read the text and find areas that don’t sound right;
    • editing: editors change some parts of the text according to generally accepted standards in the chosen language;
    • proofreading: proofreaders read the text and look for errors and misprints;
    • formatting: specialists control alignment, font, size, etc.

    With this set of services, you get not just a translated text, but full-fledged material, ready for use in your target market.

    Post-project review

    After translation, it’s important to conduct localization testing, for example, using native speakers. When all errors have been corrected, edits made and the customer is satisfied with the text’s quality, the text can safely be used for commercial purposes.

    Documents commonly translated for healthcare

    There are various types of texts that are used in medicine. After translation, we will provide you with the following fully prepared documents:

    • results of clinical trials — if you provide international medical services or want to share the results of experiments with the public;
    • regulatory requirements — if you need a clear description of your devices and the local regulations for their use;
    • device labeling and packaging — if you are launching a product for the international market and want to attract customers;
    • user manuals — if you want to improve the user experience of those who work with your medical product;
    • texts for software applications — if you want to release a digital product internationally;
    • medical equipment documents — if you sell a technical product and want to make sure it’s used correctly;
    • medical journal articles — if you want to publish your article in an international journal;
    • product information leaflets — if you want users to learn more about your product.

    Each of these texts will help you grow and attract new audiences. In turn, we guarantee the quality of these documents.

    How to find a translator for medical equipment?

    In any event, to ensure accurate translations, you need to hire competent specialists who are well versed in the scientific language and hold a degree and experience in a related field. However, the question is whether to outsource translation services or use in-house translators. Let’s compare these options.

    In-house experts

    Many device manufacturers understand from the beginning of the work that they will release numerous products on the international market. If this is your case, then it’s worth considering hiring in-house localizers. This can be challenging because a hired medical translator must have translation experience, know the basic translation tools, and also be competent in project management.

    In some cases, you may also need a medical device consultant. In addition to medical knowledge, this person must have a good understanding of how your product works and what components it consists of, meaning they need to have an understanding of engineering aspects. As you can imagine, there are not many such specialists on the market, and the cost of their language services may be too high. Thus, hiring in-house translators is a rare situation. The main bonus here is the highest quality of documents related to your product.

    Outsourcing experts

    Most companies that sell goods on the international market work with professional translation agencies. Typically, such companies not only translate texts but also advise customers on related issues and care about customer service. They also often have extensive expertise in various technical areas. This helps to create a text that will look at home in an international environment.

    To select a reliable expert, consider the following factors:

    • work experience;
    • reviews;
    • partner companies;
    • work with legal issues;
    • quality management.

    In addition, if someone from your company speaks the language of the potential consumers, ask them to read sample texts of your potential contractor. This will help you ensure the quality.

    Outsourcing experts

    In-house Outsource
    Advantages Same location, fast work Lower project management costs, especially in the long term
    Better internal communication No office space needed
    Involvement in your business culture and terminology A base of selective translators of diverse language pairs and multiple fields of expertise
    Disadvantages A limited number of languages You won’t have full control over the work being done
    High costs and expenditure on translation tools Might be a bit expensive
    Your translators most likely won’t be native speakers Lack of information and specific terminology, especially at the beginning
    Different time zones

    Why is Palex the best partner?

    Palex offers the translation of clinical trials, technical documentation, medical device localization services, as well as linguistic validation, pharma translation, and digital product localization. We have extensive experience working with clients from different countries, so we are well versed in creating texts that correspond to international standards. In addition, we are a leading provider of translation services for medical devices and other products with almost 20 years of experience. Our clients value the quality of our translations and our commitment to every project. You can become one of them! Drop us a line at sales@palexgroup.com. We’ll be delighted to help you localize your product!

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