Localizing medical software

Localizing a Medical Management Software

Medical software localization is a delicate task. It's not something that can be delegated to just anyone who knows basic translation or someone fluent in the source and target languages. Mistakes can create inefficiencies or lead to serious consequences. It needs meticulous attention to details and a thoughtfully planned process.

Medical translators and translation team leaders can pick a few great ideas from the following pointers and reminders.

1. Plan the project carefully

This may sound like a generic and no-brainer reminder, but it's worth repeating and emphasizing. You need to have solid procedures to identify what needs to be done and to check everything for errors before submitting the final output to the client:

  • Discuss expectations and goals with the client. Clarify all details of the project especially the format and organization of the final output. Identify the target languages. The client may also want a specific tone (formal/conversational/etc), which may be different from the source texts so be sure to verify this.
  • It would help to write a project scope document. This can be similar to a to-do list with descriptions of the courses of action to be taken.
  • Allocate enough time in hiring proficient and experienced translators with medical knowhow. Efficient language service companies usually don't have in-house translators. They rely on freelancers or independent contractors especially for less popular languages. It would be staggeringly costly to hire permanent translators unless the company focuses on specific languages.
  • Set deadlines, not just a single deadline for the completion of the entire project. There should be a timeline for the completion of specific tasks. Divide the project into tasks with their respective delivery times.
  • Consider a project timeline that involves the following minimum steps:
    • identification of project goals,
    • preparation and compilation of the source materials,
    • actual translation work,
    • quality analysis,
    • correction of errors and another round of quality analysis/control,
    • conversion of the final output to the expected format,
    • submission to client.

Related read: How to Develop a Professional Medical App for Doctors

2. Highlight the parts of the software that should be localized

Identifying the parts of the software to be translated is already part of the planning stage, but for the sake of emphasis, here's a comprehensive list of the things that should be localized:

  • Software window titles. These are the texts written on the topmost part of a software window. Unless they are proper nouns or commonly understood terms, they should be translated to the target language. The "window" here also refers to modal windows. Be sure to check for modal windows in the software, so they can be included in the translation process.
  • Menus, button names, and anchor texts for links. These elements in the software user interface are vital for navigation so they must be translated.
  • Dialog boxes. These are tiny boxes that require a response from the user. The response can be affirmative (Yes/OK/Confirm/Proceed), negative (No/Discard/Stop/Go Back), or a status quo (Cancel). It's imperative to have the texts in dialog boxes accurately translated as the wrong response from the user can create problematic consequences.
  • Status messages. These look the same as dialog boxes except that they don't require a decision. They only have an OK or close button on them. Still, they need to be translated because the details they present are important.
  • Error messages. Many may not understand what error messages mean but they are essential especially when troubleshooting. To be useful to local IT staff when troubleshooting the software, it helps having the error messages translated.
  • Software documentation or help file. This is one of the vital targets for localization as it contains important information about the software useful not only to ordinary users but also to tech departments.
  • Tooltips. When you hover your mouse pointer over a button, image, link, or some other interactive element on a user interface, there are instances when a text (label or message) appears. These are called tooltips and they should be translated accordingly.
  • Images, audios and videos. Some medical software feature images and videos that contain texts. A thorough localization would also provide the corresponding translations for these. In some cases, it may be necessary to change certain graphics, audios, videos, and other multimedia content to take into account cultural sensitivities.

3. Work closely with the client and provide updates as frequently as possible

Don't think it's inconvenient giving your client frequent updates about the project. It can also be advantageous to you. By regularly communicating with the client regarding the developments on the localization job, problems are spotted and rectified promptly. This means that the client cannot complain later on that instructions were not followed or specific targets were not met.

4. Emphasize quality control

There should at least be two stages of review or quality control for the localization output: one for the initial translation and another for the final output (even if no errors were discovered in the first review). On the other hand, it's also advisable to take into account potential compliance issues.

Medical management software may not be covered by legal requirements on associated software for medical equipment, but to be sure, it's advisable to inquire about the pertinent legal regulations.

In some cases, software testing may be undertaken by the localization service provider. Not all language service providers can do this, but there are those that go the extra mile as they provide software localization services that include software evaluation to make sure that the changes implemented on the software's code do not create technical issues.

Related read: Testing Localization With Cucumber

5. Designate an experienced project manager and expert quality assurance (QA) supervisors

As mentioned, medical software localization should not be entrusted to basic translators or someone familiar with the source and target languages. However, not everyone in the team needs to have some medical knowledge. The graphics and video production members, for example, don't have to know anything about medicine.

What's important is to have a project manager and QA supervisors who are experienced on the job. They have the primary responsibility of ensuring that the resulting translations are contextually precise and with optimum brevity. They are responsible in making sure that the words used are what medical professionals use most often.

Medical software localization must result in accurate translations, appropriate changes in multimedia features, and a final output that matches a client's expectations. As such, the project should be meticulously planned and undertaken in close coordination with the client as much as possible. It should be led by an experienced project manager and subjected to rigorous quality control.

Related read: When is a Project Manager Required?



This is a guest post by Bernadine Racoma. Bernadine is a content writer for Day Translations, a global translation company and a software localization services provider. She travels extensively and uses her vast corporate and cultural experiences to create interesting and factual blogs.

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