What Is Medical Transcription?

Not so long ago, few people had ever heard of medical transcription as a profession, but for the past 25 years, it has become one of the leading opportunities for those who wish to work at home and make a good living at it.

What do MTs do?

Let’s break the word transcribe down. Trans– is related to the word transfer, which is “to convey or cause to pass from one place, person, or thing to another.” The next part of the word is scribe which is both a pronoun and a verb. A scribe (pronoun) is one who records things in written form; to scribe (verb) is to write or inscribe. Being a scribe in ancient Greece, was a highly esteemed profession with a well educated and highly specialized person providing the service. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, kept his physician notes as a written record of medical symptoms and treatments. The notes also served as a basic guide for the next generation of doctors, with each adding to the cumulative pool of information.

In the early 1900s, medical stenographers began taking dictation by shorthand; thereafter, dictation machines evolved.

Since that day, the records process has expanded exponentially to include the patient record and treatment history from birth to death for statistical information, and for the billing and reimbursement process. Accuracy in medical transcription is critical in the modern sense to ensure proper care delivery and clear communication in every facet of patient care. Virtually every patient encounter requires a comprehensive record of the encounter, including the diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. This is the consolidated material dictated then transcribed by the MT.

Physicians have come to rely on the judgment and reasoning of experienced medical transcriptionists to safeguard the accuracy and integrity of medical dictation. It is one of the most sophisticated of the allied health professions, creating an important partnership between healthcare providers and those who document patient care.

To prepare, MTs-in-the-making study medical language, including Greek and Latin word origins and their linguistic principles, anatomy and physiology, disease processes, pharmaceutical products and dosages, and laboratory processes and results.

Before embarking on a transcription career, one needs to have some basic skills: keyboarding, spelling skills, knowledge of associated software, good grammar and punctuation knowledge, a good ear, proofreading accuracy, and good deductive reasoning power. After fundamental training, the MT should have extensive medical knowledge and understanding, sound judgment, with the ability to detect medical inconsistencies in dictation. For example, a diagnosis inconsistent with the patient’s history and symptoms may be mistakenly dictated. The medical transcriptionist questions, seeks clarification, verifies the information, and enters it into the report.

Technology has enabled remote transcription as a very successful home-based application. Voice files are downloaded, transcribed and uploaded. Transcriptionists are often able to arrange convenient and flexible work schedules. Medical transcription is a portable skill that allows for professional and geographic mobility. Age restrictions are seldom found, with great value placed on the experience and knowledge of an experienced transcriptionist. It can be a very satisfying career, with constant challenges from continually advancing technology. Our experience with voice recognition technology is that it has hardly made a ripple in the demand elements since an MT still needs to listen to and fix the 32% typical error margin in VR systems.

Medical transcription is estimated to be $20+ billion annually with a double-digit growth rate. It is estimated there are as many as 400,000 transcriptionists working.

The growth in demand for medical transcription services comes from several factors. Recent changes in provider accreditation requirements have put more emphasis on the readability of medical record data, eliminating handwritten notes in medical records. Managed care has compressed the office time schedule for most medical providers making outsourced medical transcription part of an office-efficiency drive. Computerized patient record systems are either in place or planned. New federal regulations (HIPAA and HCFA) put higher emphasis on medical record accuracy and completeness. Medical transcriptionists are a key component in these processes.

Since 1978, medical transcriptionists have been represented by a professional organization, the American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT). AAMT has advanced the professionalism of transcribing. There are over 135 component associations of AAMT, each of which holds regular educational meetings and symposia.

A variety of organizations provide testing for certification, including National Certification Services at www.med-certification.com. It is not a requirement, however. Most transcriptionists are not certified. Most employers require testing before they will hire so proficiency is a must.

Increasingly, the role of medical transcriptionists has evolved into the translation of electronically transcribed reports where the MT listens to the dictation and edits the errors in the electronic version. It is expected that since MTs are so versatile and skilled with medical information and its management that the new field of EMRs will required their adept knowledge to manage those records.

A great place to learn how to do medical transcription is at www.med-certification.com, check out the training course(s) available at that website. Not limited to medical transcription, billing-coding, office assistant, office management and legal programs are available.

Check our more information on the training here: Medical Transcription Course