The introduction of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology is altering the nature of work of Medical Transcriptionists. Prior to the introduction of ASR technology, medical transcriptionists had to keenly listen to a doctor's dictation of a medical report and completely transcribe the record. The need for a high level of accuracy and timely delivery of files made the work very challenging and at times even stressful. Medical transcriptionists used to spend nearly six hours on an average to transcribe one hour of dictation.
After the introduction of ASR, it was found that medical transcriptionists now spent less than three hours to edit and correct errors that were found on ASR software processed drafts.
This reduction in processing time is possible because, along with the actual voice files of doctors, medical transcriptionists now receive pre-transcribed draft documents that have a quality rating of approximately 90%. The medical transcriptionists’ main objective is to rectify errors found on the drafts by editing them so as to improve the quality of the ASR documents.
The common errors that medical transcriptionists may encounter in the ASR draft are:
- Nonsensical phrases
- Sound-a-like phrases
- Wrong laboratory values
- Incorrect drug names
- Missing English or medical words
- Document formatting
Hence the job of a medical transcriptionist has become more like that of an editor in that it now involves mostly correcting and editing medical documents. This is making MT work more sophisticated and easy.
Furthermore, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 encourages all medical practitioners to transform from the conventional medical transcription practice to a more sophisticated ‘point-and-click’ template oriented system that is called electronic medical records (EMR). This new system enables the speeding up of the documentation process and thereby helps doctors provide better care to their patients.
The introduction of ASR and EMR technology in medical transcription is consequently changing the nature of work of medical transcriptionists for good.
According to Mr. Anand, Vice President of Azimuth, the Indian medical documentation industry will take these technological changes in its stride and continue to grow. Popular reports suggest that there are around 50,000 trained medical transcriptionists in India. In comparison, Mr. Anand believes that there are just 10,000 MT professionals who are active in the profession. He goes on to predict that there would be a huge demand for good quality Medical Transcriptionists in the days to come resulting in more career opportunities for graduates with good English skills.