Seeking Recommendations for Reliable Automatic (or Human) Transcription
October 9, 2013 11:05 AM   Subscribe

I am a medical writer working on a large project. Part of this project will involve posting videos of physicians along with a transcript of whatever the speaker is saying. The topic tends to be fairly technical - the physicians will be using Technical Medical Terms that could confuse the average layperson. Length of the videos varies from three to twenty minutes.

The work of doing the transcription may fall into my lap. Instead of saying "no" (or saying "yes" and doing extra work - I'm being paid a flat fee, otherwise I'd happily do extra work for extra money!), I'd like to provide my client with alternative suggestions for transcribing the videos.

Potential suggestions fall into two categories:

Category 1: Reliable automatic transcription device or software. Based on Google research and a review of past Ask Metafilter posts such as this and this, it doesn't seem that this is really an option. However, I'd welcome input if anyone has suggestions to offer.

Category 2: Reliable human transcription services. My client would prioritize accuracy and confidentiality if they were paying a human to do this work. I'd appreciate it if commenters could recommend services that they have personal experience with, or that are based on recommendations of someone they themselves trust. If anyone knows of a reliable and not-too-expensive medical transcription service, that might be the best choice.

Thank you!
posted by Schadenfreudian to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Category one is pretty much out; quality speech rec software for medical terminology certainly exists and is great, but is made mostly for practices and hospitals, and probably wouldn't be affordable for a project of this small scope.

I think category two works best, and here is a suggestion for how to do it: Call the health information management departments of local hospitals in your area and find out who does their medical transcription. Some will undoubtedly outsource to small local companies, perhaps even individuals, who may be able to take the project on, and who will be well-versed in both transcription quality and confidentiality. The hospital itself may be able to give you some idea of how easy they are to work with, how high a quality, etc.
posted by mittens at 11:25 AM on October 9, 2013

I've read/reviewed a significant amount of material transcribed by verbalink, including side by side comparisons of the audio and the transcript. I've been consistently impressed by the quality of the transcripts and understand that there are options for "specialty" transcripts with technical terms. For my work, the client sourced and paid for the transcription service and my job was on a review of the content contained within so I have not worked with verbalink directly. It is, however, highly likely that the client did not review the transcript for accuracy before sending the completed material to me and I very very rarely found issue with the contents.
posted by countrymod at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hire someone in your area who does transcription, they usually charge a pretty flat fee.

Then read through and correct the errors. Don't do the heavy lifting, that's not what you're there for.
posted by Sphinx at 4:17 PM on October 9, 2013

For the second option:

I edit transcriptions for two different companies, and Done It Now. Quality is fairly good for both of them (although, naturally, your audio/video quality will affect the quality of transcription); turnaround, I think, is faster with Done It Now. Both of them go through a two-step process—first, they're transcribed, then someone else proofreads for quality. I believe both offer medical transcription as a service, although it'll just be an average layperson doing the transcription/editing, so it's best to provide them with a list of medical terms that you expect would have been frequently used in your audio.

ETA: Both charge on a per-audio-minute basis, so you might have to check first if this option would fit into the project budget.
posted by bigasthesky at 10:50 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It was a busy week and now a long weekend in Canada, sorry for the delayed response. I'll look into verbalink, but it seems that human help is the best way to go. Thanks everyone!
posted by Schadenfreudian at 5:44 PM on October 14, 2013

Response by poster: Hi everyone,

Thank you for your help. I was able to provide my client with recommendations for transcription in part based on your advice.

In the end they decided to have a staff member transcribe and have me edit...but I'm keeping these recommendations on file for future occasions!
posted by Schadenfreudian at 2:49 PM on November 14, 2013

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