Will Medical Transcription Continue as a Viable Work at Home Job?

Resources and Tools for Medical Transcriptionists

My choice for relatively affordable and reputable medical transcription training.

This is a matter of serious concern for anyone considering getting the education necessary to become a medical transcriptionist. There are plenty of people out there saying that medical transcription as a job is doomed, and no longer a good choice. How realistic are such claims?

The primary reason people claim medical transcription will die out is that voice recognition software is getting better. It is quite true that there is voice recognition software out there and that some doctors are starting to use it. However, it is not easily trained, and the reliability of such software still leaves something to be desired. Accuracy of such software is steadily improving, however.

This does not mean medical transcription will vanish anytime soon. Even 98% accuracy is not adequate for medical records. Voice recognition software also needs to be better able to deal with accents and specialized vocabularies.

The areas I would most expect to see voice recognition software adopted first are specialties where the doctors tend to do similar reports regularly, and the software can be better trained to the particular vocabulary.

The greatest challenge for a doctor to using this kind of software is the training time. It takes a long time to train voice recognition software, and during that time reports have to be gone over particularly carefully and corrected. Even once the software is trained, such review continues to be necessary.

So what happens to you if too many doctors start using voice recognition software?

One possibility is that your job will change from transcribing reports to checking them for accuracy. No doubt this would pay quite a bit less per line, but the work could be done much more quickly.

I will be honest with you here, my pediatrician, upon learning that I was a medical transcriptionist, stated that I was in a job that wouldn't be around forever. But let's remember that people said computers would take jobs away, as would automation, as would just about any technological improvement. It is premature at this point to worry about this, in my opinion.

Yes, early adopters in the medical field are using voice recognition software. But it will be years before it is commonly used, I suspect. That is the common way for these things to go. Early adopters (and despite how long voice recognition has been around, early adopters are pretty much the only ones using it still), use the new technology for some time, then comes another round of people adopting the software, but it's still not in common use.

As a medical transcriptionist, you may want to consider using voice recognition software if you feel that you can echo what you are hearing. This has the potential to allow a transcriptionist to greatly increase his or her productivity. It's quite an investment, however; the software with medical terminology is relatively expensive. Just try repeating what you are hearing while listening and decide if this might be worthwhile for you as a transcriptionist. You'll have to watch your reports carefully for errors, but this presents some excellent possibilities. Dragon Naturally Speaking appears to be the best out there so far, and they have a version that can cope with medical terminology.

Keep in mind that doctors consider their time to be quite valuable, and until they are confident that changing how their dictation is transcribed will be worth their time, they will not as a group make that change. You, as a transcriptionist, may be more able to take the time to train voice recognition software, so consider how you might be able to take advantage of voice recognition software while being aware of the changes it may someday make to your job.

You will also need to be aware of electronic medical records and how they will impact your job. Electronic medical records may have more of an impact on your career as a medical transcriptionist than voice recognition, as it changes the way reports are done. Information in an electronic medical record needs to be in a structured data format, not just a written report generated by a doctor's dictation. That's a big change.

These changes can be seen in how the Bureau of Labor Statistics views medical transcription. In the past, when I looked at it, they forecast faster than average growth in jobs for medical transcriptionists. This has recently changed to slower than average growth at about 6% (BLS, May 2011). On the plus side, that's still growth and jobs haven't gone away. It just means you need to carefully think about how you manage your career so that you stay on top of things and can continue your work. Don't let changes in technology do you out of a job.

Training is available through CareerStep to become a medical transcription editor, which is the direction some feel medical transcriptionists should go. It's a way to improve your skills so you can deal with the changes made with electronic medical records and voice recognition software.

Back to medical transcription main page.


More Medical Transcription Articles

Working at Home as a Medical Transcriptionist with Children in the House
One of the reasons many people choose to start a career in medical transcription is so that they can stay at home with their children. However, having children around makes it difficult to be productive.

Medical Transcription Employers
My list of companies that hire medical transcriptionists. Most do require experience, of course, but some will accept quality training instead.

Medical Transcription Useful Links
A few of the links I found useful when working as a medical transcriptionist.

Medical Transcription Basics
A site all about learning medical transcription.

Copyright © 2003-2019 Stephanie Foster unless otherwise indicated


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