Medical Transcription: Combining the Human Element with Technology

The medical transcription industry is often misunderstood. Many people believe this career doesn’t require any extra education, that doctors can do it all themselves with new technology, or that there are just no jobs left in the industry.

Are you thinking the same thing? Think again.

The medical transcription industry continues to see a demand for qualified individuals, which means it’s essential to seek out formal training. And as for machines being able to do the job, this is only partly true. Advances in technology have given doctors voice recognition software—which we will talk about later—but this software isn’t as dependable as the human ear, which is why so many health practitioners continue to engage the services of medical transcriptionists.

Medical Transcription Is An Evolving Career
The field of medical transcription has seen change over the last few years. With the advances in technology, transcriptionists have taken on more of an editor role. They act as quality assurance between the doctor’s dictations and the final report in addition to performing their traditional role of listening to recordings and transcribing them. There are still a definite need for medical transcriptionists and having the right education is key to being successful in their field as the role and technology continues to evolve.

Two significant technological changes have brought both more challenges and more specialization to the job. These changes show how human effort and technology go hand in hand.

Speech recognition technology:
Also known as voice recognition software, these programs can recognize and learn a dictator’s voice and then create a written report as an initial report. As hospitals have implemented this new technology, they have often found out it does not work as well or as seamlessly as they hoped it would. These organizations have had to hire transcriptionists back into their workforce to bridge the gap between the reports created by the software and the accuracy demanded by the life-and-death nature of medical records.

The software has trouble with some medical terminology, and it can also struggle to understand some doctor’s accents. The software makes mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes can be the difference between life and death, so it’s crucial this information is 100% accurate. This is why a medical transcriptionist still needs to listen to the recordings and check the draft report for factual, grammatical, and spelling errors. In addition to editing the reports, transcriptionists also format them into the standard acceptable styles.

Electronic health records:
The government-mandated change to electronic health records (EHR) is bringing changes to the MT industry. There needs to be some level of coordination between medical transcriptionists and the EHRs. Not only does this coordination save the healthcare providers’ time by not requiring them to enter data directly into the computer, but it also helps healthcare organizations to maintain profits by leaving physicians free to see more patients.

Despite all technological advances, medical transcriptionists still find themselves with plenty of work. MTSOs nationwide continue to see a demand for transcriptionists who have the proper education to fill these jobs. As technology continues to change, transcriptionists will adapt and continue to complete the clinical documentation necessary to ensure patient care and safety and play an important part in the healthcare process.

So, are you up for the challenges of this dynamic field?


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