Client Success Story: Translating Medical Technology for the Middle East

Last Updated September 18, 2020

Learn how Summa Linguae Technologies helped a healthcare innovator go global by translating complex technical documentation into Arabic and Hebrew.

The highly regulated and specialized field of medical technology involves documentation where precision of meaning is a legal necessity and can literally be a matter of life and death.

When healthcare innovators NxStage Medical made the decision to translate all English-language documentation relating to their pioneering kidney-treatment devices into Arabic and Hebrew, they knew it would be an immense task.

Managing complex medical terminology, regulatory variations, and cultural sensitivities would involve far more than simple translation. So NxStage contacted Summa Linguae Technologies (SLT) for help.

The Challenge

NxStage Medical is a medical device company based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA. With a history rooted in technology and research, the company creates innovative products that improve the lives of those suffering with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and acute kidney failure.

NxStage designs, develops, manufactures, and markets its groundbreaking solutions for kidney patients all over the world. This involves a great deal of highly technical documentation, where accuracy and certainty are critical.

Daniela Orlowski, NxStage’s Director of Technical Communications, explains:

“In the highly regulated medical device industry where safety concerns are paramount, user guides, maintenance manuals, training materials, and other associated content require the utmost attention to detail. The slightest ambiguity in the text could have serious implications.”

So when NxStage needed a large number of manuals, device specifications, safety information and other technical documents translated from English into Arabic and Hebrew, there was no room for error.

Initially, NxStage chose to execute the project in Israel using local translators. However, after multiple failed attempts to find qualified translators capable of completing a task of this scale and complexity, the company had to think again.

“We realized that this was a specialist task requiring a superior skill set,” says Daniela. “After much consideration we chose SLT. We were impressed not just by their track record of large-scale translation and localization projects, but also by their medical experience and willingness to fit in with our existing work practices.”

Localizing every detail of complex, medical documentation in different languages without losing the meaning or nuance is a demanding challenge. SLT’s expertise in medical technology and vast experience in creating localized content, which involves not only translating the words but also tailoring the message to local audiences, meant we were more than up to the task.

The Solution

SLT got to work immediately, devising a strategic solution that would leave nothing to chance.

“We assembled a highly skilled team of native translators from the Middle East, all of whom possessed the necessary medical expertise,” explains Micheline Freij, SLT’s Managing Director of USA. “A workflow was then agreed with the client that would ensure every document was processed swiftly and with scrupulous attention to detail.”

The workflow involved a five-step process:

  1. Human translation of the English text into Hebrew and Arabic by a team of native translators.
  2. Meticulous analysis of the translation by a second translator acting in a proofreading role, in particular to identify potential ambiguities and localization issues.
  3. Review by NxStage, with feedback provided where necessary.
  4. Client feedback discussed with translators and either implemented immediately or resolved with the client.
  5. Client feedback involving changes to the meaning of the source text confirmed for regulatory compliance in the target markets.

Human translation was chosen over machine translation because of the technical and nuanced nature of the text. Human translation also helped to maintain the confidentiality of the documents being processed.

Multiple checks and rigorous scrutiny of the text at each stage verified the accuracy of medical terminology and ensured the writing style remained consistent across all documents.

Challenging any deviation from the meaning of the source text prevented any potential regulatory issues arising, which could have resulted in allegations being made against the client.

The Outcome

SLT’s painstaking approach resulted in a large quantity of highly technical NxStage product documentation—including user manuals, training materials, device specifications and safety information—being:

  • Translated into Arabic and Hebrew
  • Localized for cultural and regional differences
  • Scrutinized for accuracy and regulatory compliance.

“SLT handled this large, complex project with exceptional care and attention,” says Daniela from NxStage. “Their skill and attention to detail matched the demands of the highly regulated medical device industry—and their work has enabled life-changing medical devices to be made available to people suffering with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and acute kidney failure throughout the Middle East.”

For more information on bringing medical devices to international markets, explore Summa Linguae Technologies’ medical translation services.

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