Medical Translation and the Medical Device Industry

The medical device industry has been growing rapidly over the past decade. With major advances in industrial technology, computer technology, and communications technology, manufacturers of medical devices have taken advantage of the power of globalization in the world market. A key component of this ability is the rapid translation of information into dozens of languages throughout the world.

In the United States alone, 25 percent of the medical devices manufactured are exported overseas, and over half are manufactured with the prospects of overseas sales. Of those devices sent overseas, the majority go to Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands. While the vast majority of the Dutch are fluent in English, less than 60 percent of Germans are, and only 10-12 percent of Japanese can use English even at a basic level let alone a professional one.

The implication is that vast amounts of translating must take place in order for the medical devices and machines to be shipped and used in the target country. Think about all of the different documents requiring translation for each and every piece of equipment (and these are just of few of them):

Permits to import and export Package inserts
Operating instructions Labels
Maintenance Information Compliance documentation
Installation manuals Software licenses and documentation
Patents Order forms
Process descriptions and manuals Contracts

Part of the fun of operating in a global arena is trying to navigate the many regulations of the receiving nation. The European Union receives just under half of all the Unites States medical device exports. They also have a habit of changing their rules and regulations, especially when it comes to medical care and devices. This means updating the translations each time new rules come into play.

What is the purpose of knowing this information?

Only a few years ago, much of this information was quite differnt. In another five years, it may not be accurate, either. As technology and the needs of the people change, so will the industry. The big players in the medical industry are not the same as they were ten years ago, and they will likely not be the same ten years from now. To remain viable, you must be ready to do business anywhere on the globe at any time.

Those who know how to work the translation system will have a distinct advantage over those who don’t. What if something happened in the Netherlands and the device manufacturers needed to find a new market for their goods? What if their part suppliers in China had a problem and the company suddenly needed to order their supplies from India? If all of the required documentation is already internationalized, it will be a simple process to have it translated into another language once new business partners are found.

The medical device industry is not the only industry in this situation. The pharmaceutical and bioengineering fields of five years from now will not look anything like they do today. Automobile manufacturing is on the verge of huge changes, and who knows where the next chemical engineering breakthrough will take place.

Having a relationship with a translation service agency sets you apart from the competition. With translation memories, termbases, and style guides already in place, you will be able to make the shift from one language pair to the next with little trouble. An agency boasting translators with field-specific knowledge and cultural awareness will be able to guide you through any suggested rebranding to avoid cultural blunders as well.

The world is changing fast. Are you ready to change with it?

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