Language Tips for Medical Tourists

Medical tourism is booming. According to Transparency Market Research’s report, “Medical Tourism Market,“ factors like aging population, escalating healthcare costs, and better exchange rates push the case for this rise in global medical tourism.

Besides escalating healthcare costs, many medical and surgical procedures are no longer covered by insurance providers. This has caused many Americans to cross borders in search of alternative, affordable options for their healthcare treatments.

But is it realistic (or safe) for travelers to only communicate in their native language when traveling to for medical care?

Medical jargon can be confusing in any language. Medical tourists can take several steps to ensure that they are linguistically prepared for their trip and avoid being lost without medical translation.

Translate your medical history before you travel. Detail any major illnesses, medication, allergies, etc. and avoid abbreviations. If you do have a medical emergency and no one can speak English, you can at least produce this document with your vital healthcare information. Find a professional translation agency to do it for you. Don’t rely on free websites or translation software.

Ask for information to b provided in your native language. If not, does the medical facility have access to on-site interpreters? Or, do they have other English-speaking staff?

Use a telephone interpreting service. There are several companies that provide immediate access to interpreters via telephone. You can also bring along a prepaid interpreter card. These cards provide pay-as-you-go interpretation between English and a number of other languages.

Know your emergency contacts. Ask the consulate, your medical travel agent, or hotel concierge if there is an emergency resource available, similar to a “9-1-1” service in the U.S. Note that in some countries, there are different emergency contact numbers for police versus ambulatory care. Tip: Here is a country-by-country list of emergency telephone numbers.

Bring resources with you. Carry a foreign language translation dictionary or a pocket translator with you at all times in case you do run into difficulties and need a little help making yourself understood. Most smart phones also have downloadable apps, however, keep in mind the cost of international data and roaming charges.

Ask for tools. Some facilities will have cards with common images on them where you can point to your illness, need, or food choice. You can also bring your own along. This is an especially good idea for people with severe allergies.

Learn basic phrases. It’s always a good idea to learn a few words and phrases before your trip. For example, “I do not speak Vietnamese. Do you speak English?” is a good start in addition to basic local greetings.

If your life depended on it, would you rely on using untranslated medical documents for your medical care or procedure?

Contact us if you’re in need of medical translation services.

Welocalize Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The 7th Largest LSP in the World Announces 20 Years in the Business

Frederick, Maryland – June 14, 2017 – Welocalize, global leader in innovative translation and localization solutions, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Since 1997, Welocalize has grown to become a world leader in managed language services and is one of the most well-respected brands in the industry, supporting businesses across the entire global journey from patent filing through digital marketing, localization and quality validation.

Welocalize founders Smith and Julia Yewell formed the company in 1997 in the basement of their home. The company has now grown to over 1,500 employees based in 22 offices all over the world. Welocalize translates and culturally adapts content for many leading global brands into 175 languages and 400 language pairs and last year processed 1.16 billion words.

“We started Welocalize in 1997 with the idea of helping businesses go global and 20 years later, many of our clients get the bulk of their revenue from overseas. The urgency and importance of Welocalize and the provision of language services has escalated over the past two decades, driven by globalization, increased business activity over the internet and the rapid uptake of digital content,” said Smith Yewell, Welocalize CEO and co-founder. “Welocalize is delighted to be celebrating its 20th anniversary and I’m proud of our hard-working global teams and appreciate the loyalty of our clients and employees whose professionalism has helped Welocalize to grow and succeed over the past two decades.”

“The first word Welocalize translated back in 1997 was pathfinder. We weren’t too sure how to go about translating just one brand name but we did what the client asked of us. We translated pathfinder into multiple languages and delivered it to the client,” said Julia Yewell, Welocalize Co-Founder. “That was one word and today we process billions of words per year. To see one word lead to where we are today has been an incredible experience.”

The Welocalize family of companies includes Park IP Translations, a leader in legal language services, Adapt Worldwide, a multilingual digital marketing agency, Agostini Associati, a leader in financial services translations and Welocalize Life Sciences. Welocalize has made a number of significant acquisitions since 1997 to help establish strong expertise across all industry sectors and to further enable clients to be supported across the whole global journey. In 2012 Welocalize acquired Park IP Translations to establish the company in the regulated industries space followed by the acquisition of Texas-based CD Language Solutions (CDLS) and Italy-based Agostini Associati in 2014. 2016 saw the acquisition of London-based Adapt Worldwide, formerly Traffic Optimiser, and the acquisitions of Europe-based Nova Language Services and California-based Global Language Solutions (GLS), both now known as Welocalize Life Sciences. In June 2015, Norwest Equity Partners, a leading middle market investment firm, announced that it had made a significant investment in Welocalize.

“Welocalize is now serving a wider range of clients and doing things we wouldn’t have dreamed would have been possible 20 years ago. It is the dedication to our four company pillars: customer service, innovation, quality and global teamwork that has kept the company ahead of the competition continuously delivering customer-centric solutions,” said Erin Wynn, Welocalize Chief Customer Officer. “Welocalize is proud to be celebrating its 20th anniversary and I truly believe it is Welocalize’s strong culture and talented global teams who have helped Welocalize grow from a small startup to become one of the world leaders in global language solutions.”

Welocalize helps businesses to communicate with customers, partners and employees around the world, launch new products internationally and deliver critical communications to their target audiences.

In 2016, Welocalize was named by independent research firm, Common Sense Advisory (CSA) as the 7th largest language service provider (LSP) in the world and 4th largest in North America. For more information, visit

Please take a look at a short video Welocalize created to mark the occasion.

Welocalize, Inc., founded in 1997, offers innovative language services to help global brands reach audiences around the world in more than 175 languages. We provide translation and localization services, talent management, language tools, automation and technology, quality and program management. Our range of managed language services include machine translation, digital marketing, validation and testing, interpretation, staffing and enterprise translation management technologies. We specialize in consumer, technology, manufacturing, learning, oil and gas, travel and hospitality, marketing and advertising, finance, legal and life sciences industry language solutions. With more than 1,500 full-time employees worldwide, Welocalize maintains offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Japan and China.

Going Global with your Social Media Strategy

Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social and rich media outlets, your customers and patients have a forum for voicing their opinions about your services. The rapidly evolving social networking landscape provides an open playing field for consumers to access your materials across global, cultural and linguistic lines. Social media is also increasingly becoming a useful and valuable tool for clinical trial recruitment through engaging with online patient populations.

The good news is that social media provides direct access to a global network that extends far beyond the reach of your personal email list. The bad news is that this network is made up of people who speak a lot of different languages and have a myriad of preferences and expectations.

Successful social marketers know that the success of their messages hinge on speaking to their buyers directly, and regional language and cultural preferences can greatly impact this success.

Social Media’s Global Landscape

The reality for global marketers is that the rest of the world is just as engaged—if not more so—in social media channels. According to a recent study conducted by The Nielsen Company, the reach and usage of social networking and blog sites in Brazil, Italy, Spain and Japan has surpassed the United States and United Kingdom. Further, Twitter’s blog states that at present, over 60% of Twitter accounts are registered outside of the United States. Thus, even for brands that originate here in the United States, the conversation had around that particular brand or product instantly becomes global when a social media presence has been formed.

Getting Strategic with Global Social Media

The ever-changing landscape of social media has made it no small feat to satisfy the needs of a diverse market. Yet, rather than cower at the vast sea of voices coming through the social media channels, some marketers have learned how to effectively harness these networks to truly listen to their customers voice and develop creative ways to speak to the masses as individuals.

According to Sasha Strauss, managing director and chief strategist at Innovation Protocol, a Los Angeles based brand strategy company, the age old tendency to aggregate consumer groups by demographic is not only unfair, but these categories are subdividing faster than we can keep up. Many of the old tactics employed by marketers in the past just do not work anymore under the current paradigm.

For instance, the notion that you can just swap out images in a campaign to make it appropriate for different countries around the globe no longer applies carte blanche. Plus, simply translating marketing messages without a clear indication of who you are taking to and what their expectations are does not work either. The present truth is that you are dealing with different demographics for each audience and they will expect different things as buyers.

Despite the similarities that tend to group people into a specific demographic, the fact that consumers have consistent access to all information put out through social media allows them to move back and forth between categories more easily. You can’t just assume that all women over 40 in Spain think and operate the same way that women over 40 do in the U.S.

According to Strauss, here are five things to consider when creating your global social media strategy:

  1. If you have a social media presence you have already sent an invitation to hold a global conversation.
  2. You cannot afford to get complacent. The difference between the old paradigm and the new is that information is moving fast, without keeping your finger on the daily pulse much can be missed by way of information that can help guide your efforts.
  3. Ask yourself, what is culturally relevant now? And do the research to back it up.
  4. Listen to your network! Companies and agencies have an obligation to ask their customers for guidance and when they respond, take the time to really listen.
  5. Social media not only makes your local networks global, but it also brings the global network to you. You can effectively use these channels to mitigate cultural or linguistic faux pas by tapping into them by way of a casual reality check. (Innovation Protocol often uses their social media networks to conduct small virtual focus groups – held in a secure environment – across countries, cultures, race, gender, etc. in order to get feedback and sense-check their brand strategy).

Tackling the Language Barrier

Language is just one of the many challenges faced when addressing a global network through a dynamic outlet like Facebook. When surfing the social media pages for various brands and products (maybe even your own) it is not uncommon to see commentary from people based all over the world. In capturing this feedback, language can sometimes serve as a barrier if your organization does not have in-house resources to read and effectively interpret these comments in other languages.

There are various online applications that will assist you in translating content for free using machine translation, e.g. Google Translate. While these are fine for simply getting the gist of what others are saying for internal purposes, please note that we have found on average that most applications are only 60% accurate and thus, should never be used to construct your marketing messages, lest you be left sounding like a babbling fool. Caution should be exercised even when casually responding to feedback. The best approach is to rely on an experienced agency or language services partner that can assist you in translating feedback and guide you in transcreating messages that would be appropriate for your specific target markets.

In short, there is no need to get washed up by a social media swell. With some careful forethought, active listening, and experienced partners to assist you, capturing the global voice through these channels is very doable, if not a must, in order to keep up.

Contact us for a free, no obligation quote of your marketing and advertising translation projects.

Selecting a Language Services Provider

Entering a new market can be challenging—from unfamiliar cultures and languages to different laws and regulations to localization considerations. How can you be sure you are selecting a translation team that has the experience and the training to accurately convey your message in the target language and culture?

Welocalize Life Sciences offers the following tips for selecting the right language services provider to ensure a successful translation process:

Price is only one factor. Quality, skilled translators cost more. However, selecting the higher priced language services provider does not guarantee the best translation or accuracy. Other factors to consider include experience, quality, technology and more. And, while the lowest price doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive a poor-quality translation, rock bottom pricing could mean providers are cutting corners. For example, they may choose not to follow a multi-step quality process. Instead, they use one translator and skip the editing and proofreading stages by other team members. Find out more about the true cost of translation.

Commitment to quality. Make sure that a defined workflow and documented quality assurance procedures are in place and are used at all times.  Look for a provider with a firmly established project management process involving different team members (translation, editing, proofreading). Don’t be afraid to ask the provider how they ensure quality. For example, Welocalize Life Sciences implements lean methodologies to create an efficient system of continuous improvement.

Staffing decisions. Just who is really doing your translations? Are you working with a one-person show, or does the provider have a large pool of translators to pull from? Were all those translators carefully screened and tested during candidate selection process? Does the agency require its translators to be degreed? Does it have an in-house certification program? Translator selection criteria should include native fluency in the target language, a linguistic degree from one of the world’s major universities or language schools, industry specialization demonstrated by an advanced degree or specialty translation experience and more.

Industry expertise. Not everyone who speaks a foreign language is a translator. Ensure your provider has experience in your industry, understands the regulations and nuances of your business or service, demonstrates an efficient quality process and can supply a reputable client list with references.

Local market knowledge. To resonate with a local market, sometimes translation needs to be taken a step further, which is where transcreation fits in. Transcreation is about taking a concept in one language and completely recreating it in another language – it is normally applied to the marketing of an idea, product or service to international audiences. The experienced translation agency will address region-specific cultures and dialects. Brand names may need to be adjusted to avoid different connotations in the target language that might not make sense or even be damaging or offensive. For example, Coca-Cola sells a lot of Diet Coke in the U.S. However, the company renamed it Coca-Cola Light to market and sell it in many countries where the word ‘light’ means fewer calories.

Use translation memory (TM) tools. Translation memory (TM) software analyzes repetitive text in the source documents and then queries a translation memory database to identify previously translated segments. TM ensures consistency of terminology, expedites future revisions, and reduces translation costs. Consistency is improved because the TM software will always propose the same translation for the same source sentence. Even a large group of translators, working from different locations, can produce consistent translations, provided they work from the same translation memory. TM, together with other tools such as computer-aided translation (CAT) tools and machine translation (MT), provide distinct advantages that create powerful tools to streamline translation and localization processes. Find out how Welocalize Life Sciences uses technology to speed up the translation process.

Centralize the translation process. Successful translation is also an internal initiative. Often time, global companies with several offices around the world rely on their distributors, agents and representatives in other countries to do the translations.  By “centralizing” translation management via one department, a core contact team, or even a designated project manager, companies can streamline all translation efforts and communicate their messages across to various countries more consistently, effectively and, often, less expensively.

If your materials, products or trials are crossing borders, contact Welocalize Life Sciences for more information about our professional translation and transcreation services for highly regulated industries.


Mitigate Risks and Improve Quality with Lean Methodologies

Lean implementation is a transformational process and should support organizational development alongside process improvement. Non-quality in clinical trials (e.g. late site activation or inaccurate data) can be costly and disruptive.

In this Q&A with Welocalize Life Sciences Senior Director of Global Client Services Consol Casablanca, we discuss why the cost of getting things wrong is perhaps the biggest area of cost and risk improvement for many organizations.

Welocalize Life Sciences: What is the lean concept?

Consol Casablanca: Waste is anything that does not add value; it only adds time and cost. Lean methodology consists of eliminating waste from processes so that they are efficient and effective. It’s based on two concepts: Doing it right the first time and Just-in-Time (JIT). Doing it right the first time means if there is a problem, work stops until the problem is resolved. The principle that underpins JIT is that production should be ‘pulled through’ rather than ‘pushed through’. This means that production is specific to customer orders, so that the production cycle starts once a customer has started a project—no more, no less; no sooner, no later.

WLS: Why should companies implement lean methodologies?

CC: Lean methodologies allow companies to: accelerate the transformation process; become more client-oriented; develop employees through empowerment; and create an efficient system of continuous improvement. The implementation of lean methodologies is a key factor for providing better service to our life sciences clients. Through lean, we have been able to eliminate waste from our processes, thus creating robust and efficient workflows. These improved workflows enable us to provide greater quality across the entire process with faster turnaround times. We are continuously improving our processes and creating new workflows that are adapted to our clients’ needs.

WLS: What are some challenges sponsors or CROs face when conducting clinical trials?

CC: There are several challenges sponsors and CROs face during the global clinical trial process. Here are just a few:

  • There is an increasing demand for clinical trials being carried out in Asian countries, however there are limited resources for some regional/local languages.
  • Ethics committees/Institutional Review Boards not accepting translations of Patient Information Sheets/Institutional Review Boards because of low legibility, causing a delay in the start of the clinical trial in that country or site.
  • Different documents need to be translated or can be kept in English depending on the target country.
  • Patient-reported outcomes need to be perfectly understood in the same way by patients in different countries in order to be able to pool the data across countries.

WLS:  How can Welocalize Life Sciences help with these challenges?

CC: With offices all over the world, Welocalize Life Sciences has easy and quick access to almost all possible target groups. Through standardized but flexible translation workflows we can guarantee quality translations even into languages where finding qualified resources seems impossible.

Thorough pre-production, expanded clinical investigation term data bases, translation memories of thousands of approved translated segments, support to translators throughout the life cycle of the projects and innovation in technology are only a few of the steps we take to guarantee high legibility in our translations.

To manage and eliminate non-quality in clinical trials, Welocalize Life Sciences implements lean methodologies. The result: Risk mitigation and improved efficiencies and quality.

WLS: Any additional input or advice?

CC: In addition to eliminating waste from our processes and creating efficient workflows, Welocalize Life Sciences works with qualified, experienced medical translators to doctors and healthcare professionals that provide advice and support in all regulatory and legal matters. Moreover, our production team is highly experienced and up to date with all new regulations and industry trends. Implementing lean methodologies, working with subject matter experts and client-focused processes are all key factors for providing better service to our life sciences clients.

Learn More

Consol will present at the Life Sciences Business Round Table at LocWorld Barcelona, June 14, 2017. Attendees will benefit from this session in multiple ways. She will show how to identify non-quality costs in order to reduce them by implementing corrective measures. Find out more or register at


Machine Translation Addresses the Need for Speed in Clinical Studies

Increasing the speed and efficiency of clinical studies is a well understood and agreed upon priority of most clinical operations professionals. However, according to CenterWatch 86% of clinical trials experience delays and 81% of these reach one to six months in length, with 5% of delays lasting even longer.  One approach to speed up the translation portion of the clinical process is the use of machine translation (MT).

MT is a technology that automatically produces translations of text without human intervention. MT output is frequently part of a larger translation workflow that involves humans as post-editors or reviewers. It requires previous production and consistent data collection to create a knowledge domain that will produce accurate outputs. In order to work with MT in a smart and professional way, it is crucial to work together with other market tools such as computer-aided translation (CAT) tools. This technology provides distinct advantages that create powerful tools to streamline translation and localization processes, including:

Cost reduction. Because modern MT systems can translate high volumes at low cost, they enable sponsors and companies to translate more text into more languages. For life sciences companies dealing with millions of source words, MT is a viable piece of the translation puzzle.

Faster time-to-market. MT systems can translate text at speeds that human translators cannot match. This enables them to meet on-demand requirements or to meet turn-around times that traditional processes cannot match.

Accuracy. MT systems allow for improved quality, in terms of accuracy, orthography and consistency. It avoids errors, especially omissions, that can sometimes occur with human translations.

Tool integration. MT systems are increasingly integrated with other translation tools, such as terminology and translation memory. The merging of these technologies has a direct benefit in terms of the quality of raw MT output, but also supports human-centered production methods that combine the speed and volume capabilities of MT with the quality and intelligence of human-translation processes.

Life sciences companies looking to decrease time-to-market and translation costs, without reducing quality, have a variety options. MT solutions can include various degrees of software training inputs combined with light or heavy post-editing to refine final proofs. The important thing is to find a language services provider with access to a range of solutions, including MT, and then works to best suit the needs of their client.

After more than a decade of training a specific MT engine tailored for clinical trial documentation, Welocalize Life Sciences is seeing incredible results. In an average 10,000 word document the average human intervention is only between 1,500 to 3,000 words. That means that 70% to 85% of the words are translated correctly by the translation engine, and the post-editor only concentrates on 15% to 30% of a document. The integration of MT solutions can lead to greater cost savings and faster market entry, making valuable therapies available to patients sooner.

Contact Welocalize Life Sciences for more information about our experience in translating multilingual documents for clinical studies around the globe.


2017 BIO International Convention

There’s no better place to connect with biotech’s top people and most innovative technologies than at BIO 2017. The ideas shared here go beyond professional development. Experience powerful business partnering, benefit from invaluable education sessions and network with 16,000+ of the industry’s brightest.

Meet us at booth 5116.

Life Sciences Round Table at Localization World in Barcelona

Consol Casablanca, Sr. Director Global Client Services, will present “Get Lean! Mitigate Risks and Improve Quality.”  In this presentation, Consol will share real world examples of lean implementation based on client case studies. To manage and eliminate nonquality in clinical trials, Welocalize Life Sciences works to implement lean methodologies. The result: risk mitigation and improved efficiencies and quality. In this session, she will outline the common definitions of waste, show attendees how to identify waste (and language services is just one piece of the puzzle) and share why the cost of getting things wrong is perhaps the biggest area of cost and risk improvement for many organizations.

Meet Consol at LocWorld.

Outsourcing in Clinical Trials Europe

Welocalize Life Sciences are exhibiting at Outsourcing in Clinical Trials Europe (OCT Europe) in Barcelona, Spain, May 16-17. Welocalize Life Sciences can be found at the event on Booth #49.

The OCT Europe brings together executive level delegates working within clinical operations and outsourcing across Europe to discuss contemporary challenges for the industry. With 40+ speakers the program has a mixture of presentations, roundtables, panel discussions, interview sessions and ample networking opportunities.

Contact us to schedule a meeting at OCT Europe 2017. 

One-third of Hospitals in U.S. Fail to Offer Language Services

Twenty-four million people in the United States have limited English proficiency. They experience barriers to healthcare because of their inability to communicate effectively with providers. According to an analysis published recently in Health Affairs, more than a third of the hospitals in the United States in 2013 did not offer patients access to language assistance.

In areas with the greatest need, about 25% of facilities failed to provide such services. Based on civil rights law, any hospital receiving federal funds must have language services available for its patients. However, many patients do not know their right to access language services. The study noted, private for-profit hospitals — the kind least likely to offer this kind of help — continue to grow in market share.But the challenge also provides an opportunity for hospitals to empower their customers to be informed patients. Read more about the study, LEP, and U.S. civil rights law in this article at Kaiser Health News .

For professional medical translation services, contact us.