There is a significant need for healthcare providers to localize patient portals, especially considering the push for telehealth since the outset of the pandemic. This process is essential if we are to decrease the minority health disparities that weigh down our society. 

The purpose of these portals is to give patients immediate access to their healthcare records without engaging a clinician or administrator. This benefits the patient and caregiver staff, which now has its time freed to attend to other tasks. It also avoids unnecessary contact during the pandemic.

Suppose a limited-English speaker is unable to access or comprehend the portal. Now they face two choices: to not seek care (which is unacceptable); or to communicate with staff directly using an interpreter, in which case the supposed efficiencies of the portal are lost.

Fortunately, the process of localizing and maintaining a patient portal in multiple languages can be streamlined and not nearly as burdensome as administrators might think. 

What Is Localization? 

Localization is often confused with translation, when in fact, these terms mean two different things. Localization is the entire process of adapting a product or content to a specific location or market. 

READ MORE: What Is Localization? And When Do You Need It? 

Translation is the process of converting text from one language to another. It is one aspect of localization, but localization is more extensive.

Localization also involves adapting other elements to a target market, including:

  • Modifying graphics and design to display translated text properly
  • Changing content to suit preferences
  • Converting to local currencies and units of measurement
  • Using proper formatting for elements like dates, addresses, and phone numbers
  • Addressing local regulations and legal requirements

In short, localization gives something a look and feel expected by the target audience.

Which Organizations Need to Localize Their Patient Portals?

Healthcare systems, telemedicine providers, and clinics use patient portals. Health plans are also adopting Member Portal technology. These patient portals interface directly with the organizations’ Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems. Portals allow patients to upload medical records directly to their EMR.

Portals also enable patients to communicate with providers and payers to help manage their care. They allow patients to schedule appointments and receive after-visit summaries, care instructions, and patient education materials. 

Because there is a lot of security around EMR systems, it can be challenging to export content for language-services providers to translate. It can be even more complicated to import that translated content back into the EMR.  

LEARN MORE: Translation Services for Software and Technology

Many EMRs come with pre-translated patient education materials, but more expensive licenses are often required to access these assets. Many providers feel that the content available is only applicable to vast, common, and general topics which do not always address their specific needs.

Because of the difficulty of exporting and importing content, many healthcare organizations hesitate to localize patient portals. 

Fortunately, There Is a Solution to This Complexity

LanguageLine can help avoid the complexities mentioned above altogether by localizing code instead of text.

The process is simple, LanguageLine receives the source code as a text file, localizes the code, and returns it in the languages desired. The client then hosts those additional pages on the server, and the patient can select the language version with which they need to interact.

The amount of time, effort, and cost that this process saves is quite significant. It also ensures that translated content is not missed, misplaced, or inaccurately represented.  

Version control and updates are seamless when combined with a Translation Memory tool. There is no error-prone updating process that requires a person to track and manually update changes in all languages. Instead, the client can send LanguageLine the most up-to-date version of the English code. We will automatically recognize any changes and implement them in all desired languages.

LanguageLine Can Help

The resources required to manage these workflows is minimal, as is the administrative burden. Plus, the cost to maintain a fully localized patient experience is typically much less than health systems would expect.

We encourage portal administrators to explore this solution to see what their budget and maintenance requirements would be. We think that once they perform a cost-effort analysis, they will be very enthusiastic about providing portals in additional languages.

Do you need assistance with your patient portal? LanguageLine is here to help. It begins with a conversation. Please contact us via our website or (800) 752-6096.