Does anyone do medical transcription?
March 22, 2004 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone do medical transcription? Can someone point me to a site that gives a good overview of needed equipment, cheap courses or something. It's tough to wade through the sales pitches that a google search turn up.
posted by TuxHeDoh to Work & Money (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I did some of the online courseware for CareerStep. I can't tell you too much about their relative quality to other programs, only that they were among the most honest, pleasant, and organized people I've worked for. They cost about $1400.
posted by weston at 10:26 AM on March 22, 2004

I don't do this, but my mom does, and has for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, her independent days are long past: back then all you needed was a Dictaphone, foot pedal, and a Selectric. As such, take all of the below as decades of observation, not the voice of experience.

When she worked in a doctor's office or at a hospital, she used the equipment provided, as do most transcriptionists These days that's mostly semicustomized versions of Word or in some rare cases WordPerfect. Hospitals, in particular, have very specific workflows and the records departments are set in their ways; as a transcriptionist, you're bringing nothing to the table but your ears and fingers. Expect to be trained to do things Their Way, using Their Setup, and go ahead and ignore the rest of this comment.

Working independently for small practices varies tremendously. If you're planning to work at home, you'll need to figure out a couple of things to determine what equipment and software you should have on hand:

How the staff will give you dictation -- tape? Voice mail? MP3? If you're receiving cassette or minitape, you'll need the appropriate dictaphone hardware. You will want to pedal back and forth, so don't skimp here. A good dictaphone can make the difference between a comfortable job and an excruciating one. Invest in a top flight headset, too; it's going to be stuck to your skull all day!

In what format does the staff need the records returned, and how? Are you turning over a Word doc? Raw text? Or do they require you dial in to a terminal server (of either the GUI or 1970s type) and type on that, or are file transfers part of the plan? You'll need to know this before you have all the software and hardware you need, but assume that a copy of Word and a modem is the very minimum. A printer may be handy as well, even if the workflow doesn't involve printing records. If it does, get a cheap little laser printer, and charge more.

I would be remiss, though, if I didn't point out that a vast majority of medical transcription work in the US is being farmed out to major transcription "factories," many of which are overseas. That's not to say you can't carve a nice niche for yourself in the field, but you might want to keep in mind that your competitors are cheap, ubiquitous, and well marketed.
posted by majick at 12:58 PM on March 22, 2004

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