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Written Medicine: Pharmaceutical Translations

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Written Medicine translates dispensing labels for pharmacists who would otherwise struggle to communicate this vital medical information to their customers.

According to the most recent census, 5 million people in the UK speak English as a second language, with 200,000 not speaking it at all and 1 million speaking it ‘badly’. Academics estimate that as a result as many as half of ethnic minority patients fail to adhere to medical treatment, costing £140M a year in worsening health conditions and wasted medicines.

Written Medicine’s pharmacy- specific translation software, allows the pharmacist to print bilingual pharmacy dispensing labels for patients who do not read English. This includes important medical information, instructions  and warnings. Labels and phrases were initially trialled in Arabic, with Polish, Punjabi, Somali and Bengali recently added.

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Nominet Trust funding is to move the software tool, which pharmacists can access via any web browser, from an invention collaboration platform to commercial software. The team hopes to soon confirm a year-long trial of the service with a network of up to 60 pharmacies to monitor patient’s usage data and identify to what degree their choice of language impacts adherence and health outcomes.

Currently, pharmacies in ethnically diverse areas tend to rely on a patchwork quilt of informal translation support to educate patients about treatment: bilingual staff, family or friends. However these oral instructions are often forgotten after the patient leaves the pharmacy.  


Written Medicine has been approved for funding from Nominet Trust. Funding is subject to successfully completing our project initiation process.