Medical Terminology

The Healthcare Interpretation Network (HIN) has been working for close to 20 years to improve interpreter training and raise interpretation standards for the delivery of primary healthcare services to patient populations who have limited proficiency in English and French.

As part of this commitment to quality, HIN in collaboration with Glendon College School of Translation and the Masters Program in Translation initiated a project to develop a professional terminology tool for healthcare interpreters in the most common languages used in Canada. There have been conversations with other organizations for cross-sector collaboration.

The Project Lead is Ms. Nelida Chan, a professional terminologist who teaches the Terminology course at the undergraduate and graduate level at Glendon College, York University.

This project is to develop a multilingual Terminology Management System (TMS) to manage the terminology used in the healthcare sector. The system is intended to serve a dual purpose: a language tool to assist community interpreters and translators better serve the healthcare community as well as a pedagogical and research tool used in the teaching of language professionals.

The development of the database is intended to assist in the delivery of interpretation services in the healthcare sector and to promote a greater understanding between healthcare professionals and patients. The database was designed so as to include not only the technical healthcare and medical terminology used by professionals but also the corresponding terms used in plain language for the same concept in multiple languages. This common understanding of the terminology will assist multilingual
interpreters and translators to better bridge not only the language but also the knowledge barriers between the healthcare professionals and the patient. As a pedagogical tool the database and the project will be used in the teaching of terminology management and translation and in the research of language and cultural contact.

Initially the multilingual terminology database was developed by the students enrolled in the Terminology Management course of the MA Translation Program at York University in partnership with community interpreters from the Healthcare Interpretation Network (HIN). The database uses i-Term, a state-of-the-art terminology and knowledge management tool which includes a modeling module for structuring the terms according to the relationships between the concepts. The i-Term application has been customized to accommodate ten languages: English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Vietnamese, Arabic and American Sign Language. We are currently developing a system to capture the research findings and making them available from the terminology record. The database is now being populated, in part with funding made available by HIN sponsors. There are approximately 1500 terms in the database. A pilot project resulted in the addition of video clips of signed terminology in American Sign Language to 24 records. The i-Term application is scheduled to be upgraded to the latest version in the spring of 2012.

If you would like to view the terminology database, you can perform a public search as a guest when you go to . At this time, you must be a member to view the full terminology database. Please contact Nelida Chan about becoming a member at

Please be advised that the database will be down while software is being upgraded. The date of the software update will be announced soon.