What is Medical Transcription?

Medical transcription is the typing of documents from dictated recordings by health professionals. Basically, any type of medical treatment, procedure, diagnostic test, etc. must be documented into a patient's permanent medical record. In order for this to be done in a legible, accurate fashion, health professionals dictate this specific information either into a digital or analog recorder and/or through the use of a phone dictation system. Transcriptionists then transcribe this information into a typed document, which is then forwarded to the dictator for review and signature. These documents then become part of a patient's permanent medical record. These documents can be discharge summaries, history and physicals, admission summaries, operative reports, expiration reports, office visits, diagnostic studies, consultations, referral letters, etc.

To understand and accurately transcribe this dictated information into a document that is both accurate and comprehensible to the reader, a medical transcriptionist must have an in-depth understanding of medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, procedures, and treatment. Not only is it important to have an understanding of these components, but the transcriptionist must also be able to translate abbreviations and have the ability to reference terms through the use of printed and electronic reference materials. They must also have a vast knowledge of the English language relating to its usage regarding punctuation and grammar, and also have knowledge of the appropriate format or style that may apply to each specific document being transcribed. They must also possess the ability to overcome any obstacle to get the job done. This may include transcribing dictation by a dictator with an accent, dictation having background noise, or just restructuring what the dictator is saying so that it is presented in a concise, accurate manner without changing the ultimate meaning behind it.

How a transcriptionist receives this dictation can be by several methods. Some dictators still use regular tape recorders using standard or micro size cassettes, which are then picked up by the transcriptionist, transcribed, and returned to the dictator. Although, this was the most prevalent 15 years ago, since digital and computer technology have come on to the scene, there are now new methods of receiving and transmitting dictation and transcripts that do not require you to leave your home. These methods can include the use of a dictation phone system whereby a dictator can pick up the telephone and dictate a report. The transcriptionist then has a satellite transcriber with a foot pedal and headphones that allows them to access this system via a phone line. The dictation is then listened to via this transcriber, transcribed into a document, and the document can be sent back to the dictator electronically via email or server. The most advanced method is through the use of voice files, which are produced either through the use of a digital recorder or digital phone system used by the dictator. These voice files can then be transmitted directly to the transcriptionist's email or server, downloaded, transcribed using a PC based transcriber kit or WAV player, and returned to the dictator without having to leave your home. This is becoming the more prevalent method of doing medical transcription and is now allowing companies to hire transcriptionists living in any part of the country because these voice files can be downloaded via the use of the Internet or software programs that connect directly to a server. This then allows the dictator to receive his/her dictations in electronic format for electronic record keeping.

In any event, medical transcription is something that is done all over the world. It is also offering more opportunities than ever with the ever-growing technology and with the stringent health insurance guidelines health professionals are forced to follow. Also, with the largest sector of the population aging, unfortunately, more transcriptionists are necessary to fulfill the need for these documents to be produced. Although, most of the opportunities today are at home positions, there are still positions outside of the home in hospitals, clinics, doctor offices, etc. It can also be a very lucrative at home business if you so choose to offer your own service instead of working for a company. On average, a properly trained medical transcriptionist can earn $20,000.00 a year working part time (approx. 20 hours per week) and as much as $50,000.00 a year full time (approx. 30-35 hours per week). And they can earn much more if they choose to have their own business. Although, most transcriptionists working at home are usually paid by the line or page, this can equate to as much as $18.00 to $25.00 per hour working anywhere from 6 months to a year in this field. Not only that, working at home allows you to write off many of your expenses using your home as an office. This also equates into quite a savings not to mention the savings on clothing expense, traveling expense, day care cost, and the list goes on.

All in all, this is a great profession to work in if you have the discipline and will to proceed through the rigorous training necessary. If you feel you do, this can be a very gratifying and fulfilling profession not only relating to the fact that you can work from your home, but also because you will now have a skill that will allow you to work independently. This skill will also provide you with the security you desire for your future regardless of handicap, age, or gender.
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