By Damian Sofsian
Medical transcriptionists are here for the long haul. The growing and aging population has increased the demand for their services. Older age groups go for more medical treatments and tests that necessitate documentation. A sustained need for electronic documentation should ensure that this vocation will not disappear quickly. Increasing numbers of medical transcriptionists will be required to modify patients’ records, edit scripts from speech recognition machines, and spot inconsistencies in medical reports.
Medical healthcare providers in the United States have started to outsource transcription work overseas, to places like India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The popularity of transmitting private health information through the Internet has grown tremendously. Furthermore, it has become more secure. However, this method does have its shortcomings. Reports transcribed by overseas medical transcription services typically need editing to meet quality standards. This is understandable, as most of those countries do not have English as their first language.
Notwithstanding the boon of speech-recognition technology and its positive role in this field, the machinery is far from perfect. The software programs tend to struggle at times to evaluate human voices, as well as the complex nuances of the English language. Consequently, the need for skilled medical transcriptionists will not abate anytime soon.
Hospitals do employ a decent percentage of medical transcriptionists, but job growth in this field is not as rapid as in other industries. However, with the escalating demand for standardized records, there should soon be a parallel growth of employment for medical transcriptionists in physicians’ offices. In the United States, medical transcriptionists held more than 100,000 jobs in 2004. About 40% plied their trade in hospitals; 30% worked in physicians’ offices. The rest worked for medical laboratories, business support services, offices of physical and occupational therapists, audiologists and so forth.
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