Telemedicine: challenges and perspectives for translation

Published on 09/10/2023

As technology has evolved, several sectors have experienced significant changes. One of the sectors that has undergone most changes in recent years is medicine. This is demonstrated by the emergence of telemedicine.

What is telemedicine?

Basically, it refers to the services provided by health professionals without the need to attend a consultation in person. In other words, everything takes place telematically, with the various advantages that this entails.

Indeed, it is the benefits of telemedicine that have led to the boom in telemedicine, which was undeniably also a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Coronavirus prevented people from going to the doctor's office normally, so the remote alternative saw unprecedented growth.

The prevention of certain diseases has improved while waiting times for health professionals are being reduced. It is therefore not surprising that more and more people want to take advantage of these benefits by using telemedicine.

Translation in the field of telemedicine

It is likely that at some point you have wanted the opinion of a medical specialist on a particular case. However, one of the eminent experts in the field in question resides in another country. There is no problem in this respect, as telemedicine allows direct communication with such a professional. But what if the language were different?

If a Latin American citizen makes a telemedicine consultation with a doctor in Spain, there would be no communication problems, since with the exception of certain specific words and expressions, both types of Spanish are almost identical.

However, the situation would be quite different if a Spaniard or Latin American wanted to consult the opinion of a specialist who works in another country and therefore speaks a completely different language.

This language barrier is a thing of the past with the help of a translation agency. In fact, telemedicine translation is a service that we are gradually being asked to provide by more and more clients, which is not surprising given the boom in the telemedicine sector.

However, as a translation company, it is essential to provide a good service. Translations carried out in the healthcare field have to meet a series of characteristics, which we will go into in more detail below, which are evidently a real challenge.

Accurate translation without any errors or ambiguities

First of all, a translation requested in the telemedicine sector must be as accurate as possible. In other words, everything the doctor says, regardless of whether it is expressed in English, Portuguese, Italian, German or any other language, must be translated into Spanish, respecting the meaning of each word, expression and phrase used by the health professional.

It should be taken into account that a mistranslation in the diagnosis or in the guidelines determined by the doctor for the patient to be cured can lead to a situation that is detrimental to the patient's well-being. It is essential for the translation be of outstanding quality. It is therefore advisable to use a highly experienced translation agency.

Speed is also important in the case of healthcare translations

On the other hand, translation has to be quick so as not to saturate the telemedicine service, otherwise each consultation would take too long and the waiting time for care would be excessive.

Perspectives for telemedicine translation

Telemedicine seems to be here to stay. It is being used more and more, so specific translation will be of vital importance in the future. In fact, it is already used today to guide surgeons live from another country, with the translator conveying the instructions of another specialist in the language in question, which the health professional being guided by videoconference must apply to the letter.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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