Transcription Essentials

Transcriptionists spend hours each and every day, converting the spoken word to some type of permanent record.  Whether this is achieved by utilizing analog equipment, digital technology, or PC based software, there are certain tools that should be considered essential in order to optimize their productivity and more importantly, their earning potential.

Transcription Software
Digital dictation and transcription solutions are widely in use given the decline in production and availability of tape equipment and offer features and functionality that far surpass their analog predecessors.  There are a wide variety of transcription software programs available in the industry and there are some key features that make some programs a standout.  Look for features such as wide compatibility with digital file formats and productivity enhancers such as file worklist, line count utility and pitch-corrected speed control.  More importantly, invest in a program that keeps pace and compatibility with ever-changing technology; free programs are great on the pocketbook but may put a transcriptionist at a disadvantage when acquiring work or new clients.

Line-Count Program
Many transcriptionists are paid based on the volume of work that they complete.  Having a program that allows them to calculate their anticipated earnings and that allows for pay variables by client, is a definite essential.  Transcription company owners can easily calculate both their employee earnings as well as their client billings and with some programs, can even produce an invoice as well.

Reference Materials
Utilizing reference materials such as medical dictionaries, medical specialty and pharmaceutical reference titles enables transcriptionists to quickly and easily look up terms to clarify meaning, dosage and other relevant information to ensure the accuracy of the patient narrative.  These titles have traditionally been available in book form, but many are now available as software programs as well.

Spellchecker
The accuracy of the documentation that is produced is an absolute necessity and in some cases can also affect an individual’s income potential and client retention.  Using a medical or legal spellchecking program will ensure that errors in documentation are flagged and corrected.  Keeping up to date on the newest available versions is also key since new terminology, especially in the medical field is constantly emerging.

Hardware
Whether working in a busy office, transcription pool or out of their home, using quality headsets and foot controls can go a long way towards not only making a transcriptionist more productive but also more comfortable.  Most foot controls in use within the industry are already ergonomically designed to ease strain on the foot and ankle.  Headsets come in wide variety of styles and sound quality levels so it’s important to find one that fits your comfort preferences, but that also provides good sound quality to avoid time wasted straining to hear the audio, or excessively rewinding to review garbled audio.

Workplace Health
Typing for a majority of the day can put a strain on a transcriptionist physically but there are products that can help minimize strain to one’s hands, feet and back.  Wearing wrist supports or typing gloves help to ensure correct hand/wrist placement and prevent medical conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.  Using a back support when long hours are spent sitting in a chair can help ease strain and allow for longer and more comfortable sessions of work.  A simple pedal mat placed on the floor will ensure that a transcriptionist won’t be chasing their foot control around and ensures consistent proper foot and ankle placement.

Security
HIPAA and HITECH mandates are a hot topic these days and it is key both to a transcriptionist’s livelihood and financial security that they utilize tools to protect the information they are charged with documenting and handling.  Using encryption software is the simplest and most cost-effective way of protecting audio files and documents whether they are stored on a network, PC hard drive or are being sent back and forth across the internet.  Many programs do double duty and can also automate the routing of the files becoming a productivity enhancer as well as a security tool.

Using the above products and tools will ensure both a productive and healthy livelihood for any transcriptionist.