Your health records in several languages? Not as easy as it sounds!

Since the creation of the project, we decided to make Andaman7 available in several languages to maximize our users’ comfort. It seems only natural to manage your health in your native language.

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But having our app available in several languages is only a small part of the solution… The complete “medical content” should also be translated … and that’s where the troubles begin.

If the medical content is codified (meaning a user cannot write whatever she wants: she has to make a choice in a list of codes), it is possible to translate it automatically. As an example, let’s take simple fields like the “gender” field: the “female” word is stored as a code, and therefore is easily and automatically translated into other languages. For other fields, it gets less obvious.

One can codify all illnesses, symptoms, medications… based on existing codification systems. It would therefore be possible for other fields to be automatically translated but this would bring up 2 main problems:

  1. There are various medical coding standards (ICD, ICPC, SNOMED, LOINC …) but none of them has been unanimously chosen (yet)…making it complicated to commit to one of them.
  2. Making a majority of fields codified means less freedom for the users and a much heavier process to input their data than “free text” fields.

Nowadays, free translation tools are widely available and make an automatic translation process possible… but far from perfect. The inaccuracies of general translation systems like “Google translate” and others quickly make you realize that in a field such as health and medicine, you just can’t risk translation misinterpretations.

So, an immediate translation of all content of our app is not something we can offer right now. However, we think this could be the case in a near future, when technology will have made sufficient progress in that field.

Meanwhile, just being able to change the language of the application and translating the codified items is already useful. If you go in a country speaking a different language, you can change the language of Andaman7 before showing your medical file to a local doctor. Even if the contents are not all translated, having fields in their own language will allow the physicians to navigate a little better and understand at least partially the content (because from one language to another, there sometimes are similarities in the technical terms being used).

Managing medical data has always been hard. And translating even harder. But we’re making progress fast. Feel free to install Andaman7 (free on AppStore and Google Play) and tell us if we are doing a good job.

Our mission is “Contribute to the good health of every human being, all over the world”.

Vincent Keunen

Patient and entrepreneur
Founder and CEO of Andaman7
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