Medical Transcription: Its Past, Present, and Future
Medical Transcription has become a common term today and is about human beings listening and typing out physician dictations. Technological advances have always defined the medical transcription process. It will continue to be so and one wonders what the future could bring for the medical transcription professional.
Looking back into the past history of medical transcription one has to mention about the clumsy medical record keeping methods of yesteryears. All early records were hand written medical records that were highly abbreviated because it was quickly written /scribbled by the physician who was also actually treating the patient.
Files kept in wooden filing cabinets, that consisted of collections of handwritten notes/scribbles along with typed documents had to be physically retrieved from shelves every time the physician wanted to have a second look at them. Further development for years just involved the duplication of medical records /documents using carbon paper. (I remember doing it myself)
Medical transcription need not actually only be associated with insurance claiming. Storage of medical records by transcription must have begun ever since computers came into use. It was the equivalent of stenography and writing in shorthand the dictations of business.
We know various automation systems had started evolving right from the year 1960. Computer systems were not useful enough for years to be used in transcribing records in the medical / health sector. Only much later in the early 90s did actual medical transcription come into existence.
Today when we talk of medical transcription it automatically encompasses infrastructure, the desktop computer, the Internet, digital transmission, information systems, PDAs, dictation systems, foot pedals, headphones and more. The evolution toward the electronic patient record and HIPAA compliance is forcing everyone to catch up with technology and there is no looking back. Globalisation has enabled the medical transcription professional to even sit at home and work for clients who may be located anywhere else on the globe or beyond.
The current developments in VRS (voice recognition software) and its evolution may some day totally automate and even remove the human element in the medical transcription process. Medical transcriptionist (MT) is already happy enough to just edit the documents produced by the VRS.
Future, technology may grow to replace the human element and medical transcription can mean just another chip on a board. (I don't mean to be sarcastic). But then we still value art don't we? Like a hand printed dress or an antique furniture, manual medical transcription work will have its value and may become more precious. Won't it?
About the author:
The author of this article is Ricci Mathew of Outsource Strategies International (OSI), a US based company that offers services in M edical Coding, and Medical Transcription.