;   Medical Translation Insight: Customized medical translation is a hairy knuckle dragger - ForeignExchange Translations

Product life cycle for drug and device companiesIt turns out that it's not enough to "just" have a focus.

Our company, ForeignExchange Translations, is committed to supporting the translation needs of medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Right there, that's a tighter focus than 95% of translation companies have.

To better explain this to our clients and to improve our internal processes, we recently developed the concept of supporting our clients' product life cycle. The PLC allows for a role-based approach to marketing and service delivery and it neatly fits into and explains our industry focus.

But is it really a step forward? It could be viewed as an anachronism of a long-gone "stone age" era of translation - back when everything was one-off, personalized, and customized.

The main problem with a customized approach to medical translation is that there isn't one translation "buyer" in any pharmaceutical and medical device company. The role is shared across multiple people, from the supplier manager to the labeling manager, from the CIO to the software engineer, and from the strategic buyer to the translation coordinator. Even more disconcerting, any one role wears many hats.

With so many different constituencies in the purchasing process (never mind the startup and long-term relationship), and with many overlapping interests across these many groups, our sales team can drive itself crazy.

While ForeignExchange is the largest medical translation specialist, we are not a large company by traditional measures. How does a company like ours afford the processes, technology, and know-how needed for such a herculean effort?

In addition, should processes and quality expectations even be customized? Many translation practitioners argue the exact opposite - that the translation industry and its clients need more consistent and more robust quality, on each and every assignment.

And, finally, as we roll out our METRiQ translation quality system, we are getting a taste of the fact that customization is hard work! It's easier not to do it. And with the translation market growing anyway, why not take the easy way, without customization?

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the case for customized medical translations.


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2 Comments:

  1. Barbara Thomas said...
    I admire your ambition but it seems like a case of the cart trying to pull the horse. Invariably, what has to change is the management of the source documents, although it is evident that many companies are aware of that.

    When you look at the range of documents involved in the life cycle of a single product, perhaps the only thing common to all of them is a body of terminology. It is essential that the terminology and phrasing be consistent, particularly in documents for end users and target audiences.

    Across products, the terminology, content and style of regulatory and patent documents are highly structured in the US and EU and, I assume, elsewhere. Clinical reports and marketing documents have a less obvious structure.

    Each document type is produced by technical writers with different knowledge and skills. Consequently, it is understandable that document production is not more centralized. However, translators and translation companies deal with all of these documents and we tend to see synergies. We also have to ensure that the translations are compliant with formal terminology requirements and style, not just liguistically accurate. In the short term, the return on investment is probably minimal, to say the best. However, in the long term I am sure that the effort expended will improve the quality of service and competitive edge. Fortunately, medical translation is one of the few fields where nothing less than the highest quality is acceptable.
    Anonymous said...
    When you look at the range of documents involved in the life cycle of a single product, perhaps the only thing common to all of them is a body of terminology. It is essential that the terminology and phrasing be consistent, Translation company,particularly in documents for end users and target audiences.

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