Use translation memory to get your product to market faster.

Getting to Global Markets Faster — The Role of Translation Memory in Medical Translation

When you’re looking to take a medical device into a new market, there are many important considerations. Will providers prescribe or utilize the device? If the product is consumer-facing, will consumers understand how the device works? Will you need to get regulatory approval or overhaul your marketing efforts to localize them for the target market?

Amidst all these questions, one issue often gets overlooked or under-prioritized — document translation. But effective, accurate technical document translation can ultimately make or break the success of your medical device in the global marketplace.

That’s why it’s important to bring a translation services vendor into the fold early in the process, once your company makes the decision to broaden your sales reach. Doing so can help get you started on the right foot — and ensure you’re able to quickly and efficiently get your product into the new market.

But beyond simply enlisting the assistance of a technical translator, there’s another way to ensure the document translation process moves as quickly as possible. Enter translation memory.

Are you wondering what exactly translation memory is, or how it could help speed your device to market? Let’s look at some common questions related to translation memory and technical translation.

What is translation memory?

Simply stated, translation memory is a database that stores words, phrases, statements, or even paragraphs that are repeated within a document. This database stores text from the source document and the corresponding translated text in what are called “language pairs.”

How does translation memory speed up document translation?

In a typical document, a large percentage of phrases within the content are repeated at least once. Consider this article, for one — how many times have we already said “translation memory,” “technical translation,” or “medical device”?

If this document was translated into another language, translation memory would capture those phrases and keep them in the database. When the phrase occurs again in the English text, the translator simply pulls up the “language pair” to access the translation.

That means that the phrase only needs to be translated once, rather than multiple times. This reduces duplicative effort and speeds up the translation process while ensuring consistency.

While translation memory is incredibly useful within a single document, it can also be utilized across different documents. This means that the boilerplate text typically included in medical device translations — such as company descriptions and disclaimers — only need to be translated one time and then stored in the database.

Additional documents translated after the first one won’t require 100 percent translation, since they’ll use translation memory. This reduces your overall investment, both in cost and in time, because the translator can work more quickly through documents.

Is translation memory the same as machine translation?

Absolutely not. The most effective, accurate document translation, particularly when it comes to the complexities of medical translation, requires a human element.

Translation memory is simply a tool used by human translators, which can ultimately reduce costs. The translator guides the process and makes certain that the translated phrasing fits within the overall context. Text in the database has already been translated and proofed by professional translators during your previous projects.

Machine translation, on the other hand, simply translates a document in its entirety — without identifying nuances of language, ambiguities, or contexts that a human translator, using translation memory, would pick up. This type of translation can ultimately lead to translation mishaps, which in turn, can lead to additional costs for your company, extended timelines for moving your product to market, and even lawsuits.

But a professional translation services company, using translation memory, can help get your company’s medical device to market as quickly and efficiently as possible.

International Language Services, Inc. is a multi-language translation, localization, and formatting company that has been serving start-ups, midsize, and Fortune 500 corporations since 1982. For more information about International Language Services’ capabilities and clients, please visit