Advances in Technology: The MT Home Office Setting

Thank heaven for the new world of resources available in medical transcription today! There's a whole new set of tools that make MTs successful…

Speech recognition technology and electronic medical records aren’t the only things evolving in the medical transcription world today. Although you may not have given it much thought, the home office has been making leaps and bounds as well. Gone are the days when typing would make a heavy plunk-plunk sound instead of the light tappity-tap-tap sound you’re now used to. And thank goodness that gone are the days when an MT would have to take out the black typewriter ribbon and insert the white ribbon just to fix an error, and that’s only if they caught the error soon enough to not have to retype the whole page! Yes, the advances in the home office setting have a lot to offer when it comes to comfort, quality, and efficiency. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to you today.

Foot Pedal and Hot Keys
At some point in the employment application process, you may be asked what kind of foot pedal you currently own. If your foot pedal was included with Career Step’s Medical Transcription program, your foot pedal is a V Pedal. Not all transcribing foot pedals work with all platforms; if your V Pedal is not compatible with the company’s system, an Infinity foot pedal may be. There are different models of Infinity foot pedals, so you will want to wait until you know which one you need before investing in one.

Another option for playback is using hot keys, giving you the ability to stop/start, play/pause, and rewind/fast forward the dictation while transcribing. By default, hot keys are usually assigned F key positions, though most programs allow you to reassign your hot keys. You may also be given the choice, so it’s not a bad idea to give both methods a test drive.

Headphones come in all shapes and sizes. While this vast selection can make the shopping experience a bit more frustrating, it provides you with a lot of options so that you’ll be able to find the perfect fit.

If your computer has a poor quality soundcard, you might be interested in a pair of Spectra USB headphones. These headphones have a built-in sound card, so you can bypass the sound card within your computer.

If you’ll be transcribing in a noisy environment—dogs barking, kids playing—you’ll definitely want to consider a set of noise-cancelling headphones. While they won’t make the outside noises completely go away, they will make the dictation louder than the competing noises without blowing your eardrums out. The downside is that noise-cancelling headphones, such as Sennheiser’s noise-cancelling line, tend to be bulky and a bit heavy on the head.

Internet Access
A very common concern among new MTs is whether companies will reject their application based on their internet connection. Truth be told, certain types of internet connections can limit the job search. It is becoming increasingly popular for companies to not allow dial-up connections, because it simply takes up too much valuable time downloading audio files and uploading medical reports in a field that is production based. That said, the fastest connection isn’t necessary the best connection. While both wireless broadband (Aircards) and satellite connections are speedy, some companies have had problems with compatibility and HIPAA regulations. At least for now, it seems that DSL and high-speed cable internet are the preferred connections among transcription companies.

Electronic Resources
It used to be that medical transcriptionists were faced with a relatively easy decision when it came to choosing resources: Which books should I buy? Then, as technology progressed, a new question arose: Should I buy hardcopy books or CD-ROM resources? Now we have seen another option emerge: Should I store my resources on my bookshelf, on my computer, or let Benchmark KB store them for me? All three of these options have pros and cons to consider.

Hardcopy books provide a wonderfully reminiscent experience. They tend to be cheaper, but they don’t allow you to perform fuzzy searches the same way you can with electronic and online resources.

Electronic resources can be searched much more efficiently, and you don’t have to take your hands off the keyboard to pull them off the shelf and flip through them. They are generally slightly more
expensive. While they are usually nonrefundable, you may be able to take advantage of a free trial before making the purchase.

Benchmark KB requires a yearly fee as opposed to a onetime purchase price because it is a subscription-based service. You don’t have to wait for the next version to come out in order to take advantage of the updates, as it is updated on a regular basis. You can access it from any computer that has internet access. However, the extra appendices included in Stedman’s word book series are not available through Benchmark KB.

With so many options available to you, it behooves you to do some extensive research on the pros and cons of any product before making a purchase. Make a list of features that are important to you and search out products that meet those needs. Don’t base your purchasing decisions solely on other people’s reviews; their needs may be different than yours. Since many companies have specific hardware and software requirements, it might be wise to postpone any purchases until after you know what your job will require.

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