Digital Marketing

Insights Into Website Translation Services for Healthcare

The following is an interview with Sergio Atristain, Managing Director and Partner at Life Sciences Translation Solutions and Idea Language Services.

Tell us about Life Sciences Translation Solutions.

LS Translation Solutions is part of Idea Language Services and it focuses on bridging the challenges faced by Healthcare Marketing and Communications professionals to communicate with the growing non-English speaking communities in the US.

What are the main services that you see healthcare marketers want translated?

Typically, patient facing content like intake forms, informed consents, discharge materials but also marketing content and news that allow the communities that don’t speak English to engage and feel cared by the healthcare organization.

How do you ensure the quality of your translation services?

Our company is ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17100 (specific to translation services) certified as well as using ATA (American Translator’s Association) certified translators. Our quality model is a simple 3 steps process:

  1. A native professional translator performs the translation.
  2. A native professional editor / reviewer check the original file and the translation.
  3. We perform a QA check by a professional linguist on the target translation.

When it comes to a healthcare organization’s website, what’s the best practice?  Do you see most organizations translating the whole website or just doing portions of the site?

There are three approaches to website translation (beware! it might get a bit techy but if you are involved in any way on website management this should not sound too crazy)

1- Plugin import / export.

Most CMS nowadays allow clients to download translation plugins. For WordPress for example, the most popular is WPML. These plugins allow you to export content in XLIFF and import back a translated version. This can be installed very easily and you can decide which pages to translate and which don’t. Also, you can customize the translated pages if you want your Spanish or Chinese page to look a bit different than the English page.

The back draw on this is that you have to manage files back and forward and might need to do formatting in case there are images with text, tables, or other formatting that might change due to language size or character differences. Also, you depend on the CMS and plugin to keep working together. We have seen cases where the CMS updates and the plugin stops working. Therefore, you need to keep your IT or webmaster guy close in case this happens.

2 – Website Proxy or Cloud Content Hosting.

Proxy solution is meant for dynamic websites that constantly change content and that require quick modification to this content. The way it works is by a simple DNS redirectioning that pulls content from a Cloud Solution. In other words, when someone requests the translated version, the content is not hosted on the website server but it is pulled from a Proxy cloud hosting. It reduces drastically any IT inviolvement and eliminates the need to exchange files back and forth and all the project management required by the webmaster to maintain translated versions of the website. Here is a video for you to see exactly how it works: Proxy Idea Translations.

This solution also allows you to do part or all of the content on the website.

3 – Plain Text

This is the most basic approach to translation of content and it puts most of the burden of work into the webmaster which is basically copying and pasting the content in plain text (Ms Word, TXT, HTML or other simple formats) and send it to us for translation and then copying and pasting it back into the CMS. This process will quickly wear out your webmaster if you plan to make changes realtively often to your website.

In terms of best practices, we suggest to start translating the most relevant content that applies to the communities you are targeting with the translations. This might include the entire website or the first 2-3 layers of content or maybe you realize that the Press Releases section contains most of the content and the cost simply outpaces the benefit you’ll get by translating this section. In a nutshell, a proper evaluation of the target communities and the website before starting the translation initiative will yield a higher return on the website translation initiative.

What’s driving organizations to provide a website in multiple languages?

The Internet World Stats, says there are nearly 4 billion global daily internet users from which only 25% are English speakers and more than half of all Google searches are in a language other than English. Moreover:

  • According to the Common Sense Advisory, 72% of customers worldwide prefer to buy products or services where the information is in their language. Additionally, 56% say having brand information in their language is more important than price.
  • Finally, 85% of customers globally will not buy a product or service at all if the information is not in their language.

Locally in the US, the difference is a little bit more about who CARES vs. who doesn’t. Non-English speaking patients and consumers alike in the US react the same way. They prefer to buy, have deeper brand engagement and spend more with companies and organizations that go the extra mile to communicate and provide information on their native language.

How do you price your translation services?

Written Translations are priced per word starting at $0.07 per word and Over The Phone Interpreting Services are priced per minute starting at $1.10 per minute.

What areas of your business are you seeing more demand for translation services and what areas do you expect will continue to grow?

We are seeing more and more requests for multimedia content translation (videos, social media, website and elearning)

Together, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI implementing regulations, and Executive Order 13166 require that federally conducted and assisted agencies provide the language support necessary for meaningful participation by LEP persons in their programs and activities. As most Healthcare organizations receive funding by Federal or state agencies, they are required to provide language access. Therefore, we see this as a continuously growing space.

About Sergio Atristain
Sergio is the Managing Director and partner for Life Sciences Translation Solutions and Idea Language Services. Sergio has been in the translation business for over a decade and understands the challenges involved in accurately communicating from one language to another taking into account the target communities, specific language nuisance and appropriateness of translated content.

Sergio currently helps organizations such as the US Government Printing Office, The State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, New Hampshire Dept. of Education, Panera Bread, Parkland Health, The Parent Project, Red Hat, Saint Gobain, Bristol Myers Squibb, Huntington Memorial Hospital, John Deere and other organizations successfully communicate to target non-English speaking communities.

Sergio holds a BA in Economics from SUNY Stony Brook and a Graduate Degree in international relations from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences.

About the author


John Lynn

John Lynn is the Editor and Founder of the nationally renowned blog network The Healthcare Scene network currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 7000 articles. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. Plus, Healthcare Scene recently added Health IT focused career resources and to the network.
John also co-founded two companies: and Plus, John is the Founder of 10 other blogs including the Pure TV Network and Vegas Startups. John’s 25+ blogs have published over 15,000 blog posts, garnered over 30 million views and had over 122,000 comments. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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