In an era when there is a strong movement towards digitizing every healthcare record, medical transcriptionists perform the vital, highly demanded function of transcribing doctor's voice recordings into a permanent electronic record.
They're typically equipped with a headset and computer to transcribe recordings, and a foot pedal to pause whenever necessary.
Speech recognition technology (SRT) is becoming ever more common in medical records work, and generally boosts the productivity of medical transcriptionists (MTs) rather than replacing them.
Transcriptionists are required to proofread records produced by speech recognition software to ensure accuracy, as well as other duties including administration, scheduling, and phone correspondence.
Medical transcriptionists handle a wide variety of confidential medical records, including referral letters, surgery reports, diagnostic imaging studies, autopsy reports, medical histories, and many similar healthcare records and documents.
By law, these records must be kept confidential, private, and secure, and the MT must be familiar with all protocols related to these matters and observe them scrupulously.
Responsibilities common to medical transcriptionists include:
Listening to the recordings of physicians and other healthcare professionals and transferring the information into documentation.
Transcribing medical reports including diagnostic imaging studies, operations, chart reviews, and emergency room visits.
Deciding between what information to include or exclude in transcription.
Recognizing and correcting mistakes in language, terminology, particular drug references, and others.
Inputting relevant information into databases for storage and retrieval.
Producing medical reports, records, statistics, and administrative materials upon request.
Returning transcribed reports for review by physicians or other healthcare professionals and making corrections as needed.
Translating medical shorthand, jargon, and abbreviations.
Performing clerical and administrative tasks as necessary, including mail, phone calls, scheduling, submitting insurance claims, and operating common office machines.
Meticulous attention to detail and the ability to remain focused and alert increase the usefulness of the records produced.
Accuracy is key in this line of work, meaning that detailed knowledge of medical terminology and healthcare procedures is essential for a healthcare documentation specialist to correctly carry out their job.
They must also detect discrepancies in a doctor's or other medical professional's reports and contact the professional for clarification and correction. Most MTs keep a medical dictionary and other reference materials close at hand while working to ensure top quality results.
Healthcare documentation is a growth industry with an aging population and a highly complex medical establishment. Job prospects are expected to continue expanding and evolving for the foreseeable future.
Healthcare documentation specialists work in diverse ways, with some holding 40 hour per week office jobs at hospitals other health care related businesses or organizations, and others working at home as independent contractors (and often putting in more than 40 hours per week).
Those at a regular work location may also be tasked with other kinds of office work in addition to healthcare documentation.
These specialists collaborate with all kinds of medical personnel, including nurses, doctors, surgeons, dietitians, physical therapists, and other health related professionals.
Complete, accurate reports are often needed on tight deadlines, which can be stressful. Physically, challenges include eyestrain, backaches, repetitive motion injuries, and other problems caused by sitting for long hours in front of a computer screen and wearing a headset.
Many healthcare documentation specialists use a foot pedal or key to pause and resume recordings during transcription, editing, and proofing.
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