Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Medical Transcription and Voice Recognition

According to the U.S. Government Dept. of Labor, the need for transcriptionists to be greater than for other occupations up through 2016: "Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for medical transcription services will be spurred by a growing and aging population.”

The need for transcriptionists will continue until two things happen, neither of which will happen very soon: First, voice recognition (VR) technology must progress far beyond its present level, and second, the vast majority of physicians must adopt that technology.

Voice recognition technology is still in its infancy. I have continually tried the latest and greatest offerings by the software companies. My experience is that even for a person who has a great deal of time and energy to devote, the process of getting the VR software to understand him or her with a high degree of accuracy is difficult in a technical environment.

Unless the person is very careful to enunciate clearly, and also consciously limits the vocabulary in the dictation, there are going to be a lot of mistakes.

And every person who wishes to use the VR software must spend the time to get the system configured to their voice. Physicians are always overworked as it is; most simply will not spend the effort currently required to get the dang thing to work for them.

Then there are the issues of vocabulary and accent. Each medical discipline comes complete with its own list of terms that the VR software would need to be able to understand. The doctor would have to teach each and every word to the software - tedious and time-consuming work to say the least.

Also, in our melting pot of a society, a large percentage of doctors come from some other country than the United States. Since the software comes from the factory pre-configured to understand a Mid-Western U.S. accent, all those doctors will have a devil of a time getting the VR software to work properly for them.

Once VR technology progresses sufficiently to allow true ease of use, a majority of physicians must actually start using the software for there to be a significant impact on job opportunities in the Transcription world.

If you want to get the real story about what it’s really like to be a professional medical transcriptionist, then you should pick up a copy of Inside Medical transcription by Pam Lyon. You can get your copy here.

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