With advances in technology, there is a widespread assumption that medical transcriptionists are on their way to becoming extinct. However, this assumption is far from accurate. Not only are medical transcriptionists in a thriving field, but this field is also expected to show continued growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a significant increase in demand for skilled transcriptionists is projected between now and 2016. So with advanced voice recognition software available, and computers becoming more of the norm in doctor’s offices than manual documentation of records, why are medical transcriptionists still needed and in fact growing increasingly necessary?
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Let’s start by exploring what exactly the job of a medical transcriptionist entails. To learn more, an interview was conducted with Lea Sims, CMT, AHDI-F, medical transcriptionist of 22 years and Director of Communications and Marketing for the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity. This information was gathered through her due to her years of experience and expertise in this industry.
What is the history of medical transcription?
Medical transcription is a field that has definitely evolved over time. There have been medical scribes for almost as long as there have been physicians. Before there were actual recording devices the medical transcriptionist would actually scrub up and sit in the corner of the operating room during the procedure with a notepad taking short hand while the physician dictated to them. Following the surgery, the medical scribe would then type in a typewriter from their shorthand notes.
It wasn’t until recording devices and tape systems were invented that a physician was able to finish his operating procedure and sit with a microphone to dictate into a tape, which a medical transcriptionist then listened to and transcribed. The invention of the word processing computer also was huge for the field of transcription. With typewriters, transcriptionists had only one line of memory to make corrections without having to use correction tape. Today physicians are able to transcribe into digital electronic devices or a phone and have the file sent directly to a transcriptionist. Transcriptionists are then able to transcribe and email or upload their documents into medical software so the doctor’s office or hospital receives the transcription back quickly. Now most medical facilities are moving toward paperless records where everything is kept in the computer.