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The challenges of quantifying quality

The challenges of quantifying qualityHealth care, health care, health care... In the U.S., you cannot turn on your computer or TV nor read a newspaper or magazine without getting bombarded with the latest news and views about reforming health care.

Over the course of the protracted health care debate, I would occasionally be struck by some of its similarities to the translation field: both use outdated processes (rewarding sickness in the healthcare field and translate-edit-proof in the translation business), both sectors are marked by an absence of leaders (sure, there are "800 pound gorillas" but no real leaders), and both business lack a workable quality definition.

This last point, in particular, goes beyond the U.S. health care system. In fact, the most recent discussion of this that I saw came from Canada.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported on this lack of quality standards of metrics in its report of the recent "Metrics For Healthcare Quality: The Leader's Role" event.

It's amazing: When reading the CMAJ article, you can literally substitute "translation" for any occurrence of "medicine" or "health care" and the article will appear written by a translation professional.

Here is a snipet that should sound familiar to translation professionals:

"Medicine is still very much an art"
Here is another:
"One of the biggest challenges of quantifying health care quality is determining what to measure."
And finally:
"I'm optimistic that there will be a day when we will have objective performance measures"
Just like healthcare professionals, translation service providers need to figure out how to measure and compare the quality of their work - or get turned into a commodity.

To read more on measurable translation quality, take a look at:
ForeignExchange's METRiQ quality system provides medical device and pharmaceutical companies with measurable, known translation quality. To learn more, contact ForeignExchange Translations.


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