Can We Rely on Computers for Medical Translations?

Computers for Medical Translations

The medical field is one where there is a huge upturn in technology almost daily. Some of the most advanced technologies on the planet go to help us stay healthy for longer, so it's not a surprise that we see new technologies within the medical field all the time – from new scanning and diagnostic tools to new surgical methods, and of course, new medications to help people live a happy and healthy life. However, are there some areas where technology is lagging behind?

The problem areas come whenever you need to interact with people and communicate with them. In particular, language barriers can be hard to overcome. There are technological advances in language and communication, of course, but how do they hold up when used for medical translation services?

In this blog, we are going to look at medical translations and whether you can trust using a computer for these crucial communications, or whether it is still best to find another way.


What is medical translation?

What is medical translation

First off, we should take a look at what medical translation is. As the name suggests, medical translation is translating anything within the medical field. This can include written pieces and spoken words. There are so many people who do not speak the same primary language as their doctors or hospital staff, especially when traveling abroad or when living abroad and having to have medical appointments, so almost everything could need to be translated – things which we often take for granted.

For example, if someone does not read or speak the same language as their hospital or medical staff, they could need appointment letters, test results, medical records, and medication instructions translated. If records of appointments are also needed, they could need to have appointments or spoken advice with their doctor either interpreted, translated in person, or recorded and translated later.

As well as being a wide field with a lot of potential uses, medical translation is also a specialist field. This is because of the amount of highly specialized language and terminology used within the field – a lot of which uses Latin words and terms, which very few people speak today outside of the medical or legal field.

It is important to make sure all these special terms are translated accurately though, as even a small change to the translated final product could completely change the meaning and risk a patient getting the wrong medical advice.


Can computers do the medical translation?

This brings us nicely to the point of this blog – can computers be relied on for medical translations? As we have already mentioned, medical translations are highly specialized, and their accuracy can even be a matter of life or death.

Computers are becoming more advanced day by day, and lots of people are turning to computer-generated translations to help with their language and linguistic needs. Almost everyone will have used Google Translate at some point, and so you should have a rough idea of what computer translators are like, but they can be much more advanced and sophisticated than this.

Many professional-grade AI translation algorithms are out there to help offer better translations. However, there are a few problems when trusting these. The medical field is very specific, and you would need to make sure that you have a translation program that can handle all these specialized terms.

Beyond this, a lot of computer programs for translation all come up against the same problems – they cannot consider the document as a whole, but can only consider single words or short phrases. This can lead to some problems where the computer may incorrectly assume the meaning of a phrase because it cannot accurately see the context.

Again, a small change like this could mean a massive change in what a patient or doctor is told, which can lead to huge problems in patient care.

Computers also struggle more with audio translation. While computers are being improved all the time, accents and dialects need to be programmed in, and so there is often a problem if a person speaks with a heavy accent or uses unusual regional terms, which may be unfamiliar to the AI translation program.


So, how should we get medical translations done?

How should we get medical translations done

Computers have come a long way in the last few years, and they will continue to massively improve in the future, but there are problems with translation algorithms currently. It might seem like a simple, quick, and cheap solution, but it may not be the best option. Ultimately, if you need medical translations done, you need to ask if the savings are worth it.

Many people would argue that health and wellbeing are the most vital matters in our lives – if so, it seems best to invest more in a professional medical translation service to make sure that you do not face any of the problems listed above.

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