One overlooked aspect of pharmacy work is language. Not everyone in the world speaks English fluently, so it’s up to the pharmacy and its software system to give patients the attention and care they need, just like anyone else.

Translation or interpretation can be a tricky thing, with different languages often butting heads with each other when trying to convey the same thought.

As you’ll see, the consequences of leaving medical translation to chance can be fatal.

Here are 5 ways your pharmacy’s translation services can make your workplace a trusted staple of the community.

1. Translate Thoroughly and Accurately

Translation is much more complex and nuanced than plugging a phrase in Google Translate. Each language has its own set of rules, conjugations, and approaches to communication.

The pharmacy is one of the last places where you want something to get lost in translation.

Doctors prescribe medications to their patients with very specific instructions and dosages. One variation of a single word can take on an unintended meaning, leading to serious consequences.

On that note, make sure your pharmacy software system’s translation tools have an intuitive knowledge of every language that gives clear and concise instructions on anything from how many times they should take a medication to administering an EpiPen dose.

A study published by the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy found several inaccuracies in Google Translate when pharmacies used it to translate medication directions and consultations.

Of the 247 inaccurate translations, an alarming 29% were considered to be either highly clinically significant or potentially life-threatening.

The margin of error in pharmacy is wide enough, so a 29% chance of a possibly fatal mishap is a red flag if ever there was one. In short, you shouldn’t depend on a Chrome extension to do work meant for professionals. The results could be catastrophic.

2. The More Languages, The Merrier

The more languages your translation tools provide, the better. While having more languages available means a heftier price tag, it’ll make your independent pharmacy more appealing and attractive to more demographics.

3. Don’t Stop at Prescriptions

Translation should be available beyond that little prescription label. Vaccination fill-out forms are extremely thorough and require very specific information from the patient, so you’d be remiss if you can’t print out a Spanish version of the sheet on request.

Go one step further by having vaccine FAQs available in different languages so your patient knows exactly what to expect during and after their vaccination. Communication is paramount to your pharmacy’s success and making your place of business a little more inclusive will do wonders for your vaccine quota.

This especially applies to the COVID — and the presumably upcoming monkeypox — vaccine, which you’re going to get high demand.

4. Phone Interpretation Services

Sometimes things are better said than written. Though it’s not especially common in the pharmacy, you’ll encounter situations where you’re explaining something that isn’t found on a prescription’s medication guide.

You don’t want anything to get lost in translation. As mentioned before, the slightest mishap in translation can spell disaster for both your pharmacy, and more importantly, the patient.

Enter phone interpretation services. The importance of having one cannot be overstated here and it’s vital to find the right medical interpreter service for you.

What separates medical interpreters from general translators is exactly what you think: these interpreters have the comprehensive medical knowledge to deliver fully accurate, error-free translations for non-native English speakers. Most, if not all of them, have special certifications to ensure their services are HIPAA-certified.

Pharmacy services often go beyond the pharmacy nowadays. Explaining to your patients that it’s too early to refill a prescription, what a prior authorization is, and going through an insurance claim are among the many pharmacy quirks that can’t be fixed by paperwork.

Medical interpreters are ready to help you and your patients at a moment’s notice —  when contracted with them. Don’t let yourself show up empty-handed when a patient needs your help.

Likewise, phone interpretation services allow patients to communicate their questions, comments, and concerns to you. It makes the customer feel heard and understood, that their needs are being properly addressed.

That patient will take note of how they’re treated, eager to tell their family and friends of your independent pharmacy’s stellar customer service.

Some of the most notable medical interpretation services include:

Each of these services specializes in different sections of the healthcare industry and even certain languages, so take the time to find the right interpretation service for you.

5. Have Translatable Sig Codes (to an Extent)

Sig codes are a dream come true for a pharmacy’s productivity and efficiency. An entire prescription can be correctly typed up within seconds by just a handful of keyboard commands.

Go one step further in having a pharmacy software system that can translate those codes as quickly as you type them. This will ensure patients get their medications with reliable and easily understood instructions. Most software usually have this feature so it’s more or less something that goes without saying.

Be wary of prescriptions that have instructions too complex or specific for“1BIDCF” to cover.

Your software’s translation capabilities are likely limited to sig codes and will not translate typed-out instructions. As such, take the time to call your phone interpretation service to get the proper translation.

Being proactive like this will make the inevitable rush hour a little more bearable.


Medical translation services help you provide healthcare services with even more care and empathy towards your patient.

It’s one of the many aspects of what makes a pharmacy software system so vital and useful for both pharmacist and patient. Consider your goals as a pharmacist and see which medical translation services work best for you.

Like pharmacy software, there is no one right answer.