by November 5, 2002 0 comments

Amongst the various services being outsourced to India, medical transcription is a well-known one. There’s been a lot of talk about the logic of outsourcing: the low cost of English-speaking labor in India and the fast turn-around time because of the time difference between India and the US. 

Briefly, here’s what medical transcription involves. Doctors in the West record their diagnosis, prescriptions and a patient’s medical history and send them as audio files to the medical- transcription center (usually over e-mail). This makes security and having a broadband connection important issues. Transcription equipment providers usually offer encrypted transmission over a network or the Internet, without the involvement of a third party.

At the transcriber’s end, what hardware and software are required? A PC (with sound card), foot pedal (to rewind, forward, pause and stop the audio files. This comes with USB or serial connections), headset, line counter, medical dictionaries and books, lists of medical transcription references and transcription practice tapes. In terms of the software, you need a transcription application (one that can play most audio files: wav, MP3, True Speech, Vox) and codec support on your PC.

Also important are medical and pharma spell-check tools (like Spellex Medical); a good spell checker contains spellings of diseases, medical procedures, surgical terms, names of drugs, medical devices, medical slang, medical acronyms and abbreviations. You also need people trained in medical transcription and transcription checking.

At one time, long before BPO became the mantra of the country, medical transcription was seen as a big business opportunity. Unfortunately, too many people ventured into it too soon, leading to a situation of over capacity. Also, tech advances made it possible to automate transcription, at least to some extent. Today, there are some established transcription centers, mostly in the South. But it is not seen as a growth industry, at least for the time being.

Juhi Bhambal

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