Translation Technology in Healthcare: Bridging the Communication Gap

Translation technology in healthcare has revolutionized the way medical services are delivered, especially to patients with limited English proficiency. Effective communication in healthcare settings is paramount for ensuring patient safety, delivering quality care, and adhering to legal requirements.

In this article, we will explore the role and benefits of translation devices for hospitals, the importance of human translators, and the future trends shaping the landscape of healthcare translation.

What is the role of machine translation in healthcare?

Machine translation (MT) in healthcare involves the use of automated systems to accurately convert medical information from one language to another.

According to a report by Grand View Research, the demand for medical translations surged by 49% following the pandemic, mirroring the rise in telehealth and medical interpretation services. The same report forecasts a global compound annual growth rate of 4% for translation solutions from 2023 to 2030. This growth encompasses specialized sectors such as medical and healthcare, technical, and legal translations.

The increasing reliance on MT in healthcare highlights its critical role in ensuring clear and accurate communication between healthcare providers and patients, thereby improving accessibility and patient outcomes.

By leveraging sophisticated algorithms and extensive databases of medical terminology, MT provides real-time translations that facilitate immediate and precise communication between healthcare providers and patients. This technology plays several critical roles in the healthcare industry:

  • Breaking Language Barriers: MT ensures that non-English speaking patients can comprehend and adhere to medical advice, significantly enhancing their ability to participate in their own care. This capability is essential for maintaining patient safety and delivering effective treatment.

  • Enhancing Accessibility: MT provides translated medical documents, consent forms, and educational materials, making essential health information accessible to a diverse patient population. This accessibility ensures that all patients receive the information they need in a language they understand.

  • Improving Efficiency: By automating the translation of routine communications, MT reduces the time and resources required for human translators. This improvement allows healthcare providers to allocate their time and effort to more complex and critical tasks, thus increasing overall efficiency within healthcare settings.

Applications of machine translation in healthcare

During my research, I talked with one of our project managers about the application of translation technology in healthcare. They explained to me the crucial role of translation in healthcare, and what areas these technologies can be used for. We will go through each of them, as follows:

R&D (Research and development)

In research and development, machine translation facilitates global collaboration among scientists and researchers by providing seamless translation of research papers, study results, and clinical guidelines.

This technology fosters a collaborative environment where knowledge and discoveries can be shared across linguistic barriers, enabling researchers from different linguistic backgrounds to work together effectively and advance scientific progress. 

Clinical trials

Machine translation plays a crucial role during clinical trials by ensuring accurate and timely communication of essential trial information, patient consent forms, and detailed instructions.

This technology guarantees that participants have a comprehensive understanding of the trial processes, which significantly enhances their compliance with the procedures and promotes their overall safety throughout the trial.

Regulatory compliance

Healthcare organizations are required to comply with various regulatory requirements related to language access. Machine translation plays a crucial role by assisting in the accurate translation of regulatory documents, patient rights information, and compliance reports.

This ensures that healthcare providers adhere to both local and international laws, maintaining legal compliance and enhancing patient understanding and safety.


Effective marketing in healthcare frequently demands multi-language campaigns to engage diverse populations. Machine translation plays a crucial role by enabling the creation of marketing materials in various languages.

This technology allows healthcare organizations to communicate effectively with a broader audience, ensuring that important health messages and promotional content reach and resonate with people from different linguistic backgrounds.

Read more: Insights from the COVID-19 MT Evaluator

Business operations

In business operations, machine translation plays a crucial role by facilitating the translation of internal documents, training materials, and communication among multinational teams.

This technology ensures smooth and efficient operations by breaking down language barriers, enabling employees from different linguistic backgrounds to collaborate effectively and access important information without delay or misinterpretation.

Benefits of healthcare in machine translation

The integration of machine translation in healthcare provides numerous benefits, significantly improving the delivery of healthcare services.

Reduced costs

Machine translation significantly reduces the costs associated with hiring human translators for routine translations. This cost-effectiveness allows healthcare organizations to reallocate resources to other critical areas, such as patient care, medical research, and technological upgrades. As a result, overall operational efficiency is enhanced, leading to improved service delivery, better patient outcomes, and more effective use of available resources.

Reduced administrative and staff burden

Modern machine translation systems are specifically designed to understand and accurately translate complex medical terminology. This capability ensures that translated materials maintain high quality and accuracy, which is essential in the medical field. Precise translations are crucial as miscommunication can lead to serious consequences, such as incorrect diagnoses or treatment plans, potentially endangering patient safety.

Increased quality and accuracy

Modern machine translation systems are meticulously designed to understand and accurately translate medical terminology. This ensures that translated materials maintain a high level of quality and accuracy, which is critical in the medical field. Accurate translations are vital, as miscommunication can have serious consequences, such as incorrect diagnoses or treatment plans, potentially jeopardizing patient safety and outcomes.

Read more: Automated Machine Translation Quality Evaluation (MTQE)


Translation devices for hospitals offer significant mobility, allowing healthcare professionals to communicate effectively with patients anywhere within the hospital premises. This mobility ensures that language barriers do not impede patient care at any point, facilitating smoother interactions, better understanding, and more efficient treatment, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of care provided to patients.

Clinical applications

In clinical settings, machine translation facilitates the accurate translation of patient records, treatment plans, and medical histories. This ensures that all healthcare providers, regardless of their language, have access to the same vital information. As a result, patient safety is significantly enhanced, and continuity of care is maintained, leading to more effective and coordinated healthcare delivery.

Future trends in healthcare translation technology

The future of healthcare translation technology is promising, with several trends set to transform the landscape even further.

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: The integration of AI and machine learning into translation systems will enhance their accuracy and ability to understand context, making translations more reliable.

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Advances in NLP will improve the ability of translation systems to understand and translate colloquial language and idiomatic expressions, making communication more natural.

  • Voice Recognition Technology: Voice recognition technology will allow for real-time verbal translations, further breaking down language barriers in healthcare settings.

  • Wearable Translation Devices: Wearable devices equipped with translation capabilities will enable continuous and immediate communication, enhancing patient-provider interactions.

  • Integration with Electronic Health Records (EHRs): Seamless integration of translation technology with EHRs will ensure that all patient information is accurately translated and readily available to healthcare providers.


The importance of translators in healthcare alongside translation technology cannot be overstated. These tools play a critical role in bridging the language gap, ensuring effective communication, and enhancing the overall quality of healthcare services.

As technology continues to evolve, the integration of advanced translation solutions will further streamline healthcare delivery, making it more accessible and efficient for all patients. Healthcare organizations must continue to invest in and embrace these technologies to meet the growing needs of diverse patient populations and to comply with language access regulations.

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