Medical Transcription Tools Of The Trade

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Online Careers: Medical Transcription Tools of the Trade

If you're considering an online career and you are leaning towards the field of medical transcription, you'll need to know about some of the tools of the trade every medical transcriptionist must have. 

With the availability of the Internet, it makes it possible to work from home quite easily if you have the proper education in medical transcription under your belt and if you also have the correct equipment and tools to do the job accurately and seamlessly. 

While online careers might at first glance appear totally different from traditional jobs, there are some similarities that the person seeking an online career should consider. 

Just like traditional jobs, an online career does demand that you are educated in the job skills for the position that you seek and most importantly, once you secure a position with an online company or facility that you're able to compete with other people doing the same job. 

Like most jobs today, online medical transcription is a very competitive field and knowing how to do your job to the best of your ability will make you a more valuable employee or addition to a company or institution.

Let's take a look at the must-haves for an online career in medical transcription and some of the tools of the trade you need to help you be a success!

The Basic Tools of the Trade for Online Medical Transcription

These are things that are essential to pursuing an online career in medical transcription and without them, having an online job in this field would be impossible. There are other opportunities of course in medical transcription other than online but these are all prerequisites of an online career.

  • Up to date or state of the art computer - most companies require certain parameters and operating systems for you to work for them online. Outdated computers or operating systems won't stand a chance for programming reasons so your computer should be the best that you can afford and have plenty of available space
  • High speed Internet access that is virtually foolproof. While we all experience Internet outages from time to time, transcription services by and large and facilities contracting with or employing medical transcriptionists do not tolerate repeated Internet outages. They also do not tolerate low speeds because it detracts from efficiency in downloading and uploading voice and document files. Most usually DSL is preferred though some will tolerate fast cable though it is not as reliable - dial-up most often will be declined
  • Foot pedal and/or software that plays digital files. There are free programs out there and some can work but most often, a company or institution will require you to have programming installed on your computer that allows you to operate a foot pedal. This is the only guaranteed way to assure that you get all the dictation as programs such as Mediaplayer or other digital sound programs do not have the ready capability of backspacing that a foot pedal offers. Some people do work without a foot pedal and backspace with manual controls but this can slow you down. Most people prefer foot pedals for ease of use
  • Printer. A printer is essential even in an online career such as medical transcription and is a valuable tool because you can print out examples or instructions or lists as necessary
  • Speakers. These can be internal on your computer though for the online career of medical transcription, it is recommended that you invest in better-than-average speakers. I have Bose speakers and would not trade them for anything. Garbled dictation and English as a second language dictation sounds so much clearer on these speakers than standard or low-end speakers and it is well worth the investment
  • Phone service. Most companies and institutions want to be able to get hold of you immediately if need be so a phone is essential wherever you set up your work station. Most companies don't mind if it is a cell phone with the caveat that it must be turned on and that you are available during your work shift for contact
  • Headphones. There are a myriad of headphones available and most are a matter of preference. Bose makes one of the best sets of headphones around but in my case, I find them too heavy and cumbersome for doing transcription. Since I invested in state of the art Bose speakers, I find that I can hear everything clearly and accurately with just a standard set of earphones that are lightweight
  • Office equipment. While this is not mandatory, if you pursue an online career in medical transcription, it will quickly become evident that it can be a physically daunting task to work long hours. Carpal tunnel syndrome and other overuse syndromes occur in medical transcriptionists at an alarming rate, as well as back pain, neck ailments and other various physical maladies simply from sitting so long and not moving; also using your hands (and feet) constantly. It is recommended to have an ergonomic chair to adjust positions, a traditional computer desk or setup, a really good keyboard and mouse, a larger than average sized monitor to prevent eye fatigue and even a foot rest for your foot pedal. Taking frequent breaks helps alleviate many physical problems but the truth remains that medical transcription is a very taxing profession

Other Tools of the Trade for an Online Career in Medical Transcription

Now that you have the physical tools of the trade for an online career in medical transcription, let's examine some of the other components that you must have. Most of these are required by transcription companies or institutions as 'necessaries' in the performance of your duties as a medical transcriptionist and they are usually not negotiable.

  • Correct operating system to ensure compatibility with accounts you will be working on
  • Security measures such as firewalls or secure connection if you use wireless
  • Word in whatever version is required or ability to convert it to a specific version
  • Adobe for access to .pdf files (usually lists and account information sent in pdf format)
  • Zip program if needed
  • FTP transfer protocol program if needed
  • File conversion program that actually converts a file from a different format to a .wav file for example
  • Reference materials for medical transcription by system (more detail below)
  • Book of Style for referencing grammar and punctuation
  • Up-to-date drug index
  • Medical dictionary
  • English dictionary

While some of these references can be accessed on the Internet (for example looking up a word online in the dictionary might be faster than looking it up in a traditional dictionary), most companies want to know that you do have references at your constant disposal because let's face it - the Internet is a confusing place sometimes. What you look up on the Internet can yield you 3 different spellings and unless you are 100% positive that you have verified the correct one out of three, you are making an error.

Having rock solid documentation is always the best bet and knowing how to use documentation sources to the best of your ability is a great tool that is also invaluable. While it may seem in the beginning that there is a great outlay for references, these sources pay for themselves over time in terms of your knowledge base.

The beauty of the present day in terms of online medical transcription and having the proper tools is that instead of numerous books sitting on a bookshelf at your desk, you can pretty much buy everything and anything in downloadable format, whether it is on CD or as a direct download on the Internet to add to your reference library. 

Some invaluable references I own and use every day

  • Dorland's Medical Dictionary - though you can use an online medical dictionary
  • Book of Style
  • Quick Look Drug Book for the most current year or CD updates
  • Medical and Health Sciences Word Book
  • Webster's Dictionary
  • Stedman's GI and GU Word Book CD
  • Stedman's Equipment Words CD
  • Stedman's Abbreviations, Acronyms and Symbols CD and in book form
  • Stedman's Organisms and Infectious Disease Words CD
  • Stedman's Pathology & Lab Medicine Words CD
  • Stedman's Plastic Surgery Words CD
  • Stedman's Oncology Words CD
  • Stedman's Radiology and Oncology Words CD
  • Stedman's Ophthalmology Words CD and in book form
  • Cardiology Words and Phrases by Health Professional Institute
  • Psychiatric Words and Phrases by Health Professional Institute
  • Quarterly Drug Index
  • Stedman's Orthopaedic & Rehab Words
  • Stedman's Surgical Words
  • Gray's Anatomy

Those are just my most used references but I find that having them at my fingertips and being able to document what I transcribe is essential - even though I've been doing this almost 40 years!

What You Need to Learn to be a Medical Transcriptionist

Online Careers: Medical Transcription and Tools of the Trade

Last but not least, it is imperative to mention that anyone pursuing an online career in medical transcription needs to be aware of the most important tool of the trade and that is confidentiality. Imagine if someone were transcribing someone you love's medical record and allowed that information to get into anyone's hands. Most likely, you would be devastated and rightfully so.

Transcription of medical records is a grave responsibility and selecting a career in medicine in general always carries the caveat that the information that you see or hear on a daily basis is of a most confidential nature and should not be shared with anyone. Does that mean that just because you don't talk about your reports that you are doing all you can to promote confidentiality of patient information?

Not really. If you pursue an online career in medical transcription, it is imperative that you observe patient confidentiality boundaries by protecting said patient information while it is in your keeping. That means having security measures in place on your computer so that no breach of patient information occurs. It also means that you have a designated computer that you are using for medical transcription to which no one else has access (or at least the portions where you do medical transcription).

It is also important to maintain privacy when you are typing medical records. Even if someone dialing into your computer is performing maintenance on your computer, having someone's medical record up on your computer screen is a violation of HIPAA which means that you have not properly protected patient information. It is a fineable offense if you are caught.

Entrusting medical records to medical transcriptionists is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Again, think of someone you love and who you would want perusing their medical records. We all must work together to protect the most important part of the career of medical transcription, whether it is online or you are physically working in an institution - the patient.

Patient care is at the heart of medical transcription and their medical records should be viewed as sacred things in terms of protection from people who have no business seeing those records.

All in all, an online career in medical transcription can be and is a wonderful thing if you have all the proper tools of the trade but keep in mind that the most important tool any of us can have is ethics!

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Comments 10 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Cwarden - most of the time I love it - except when the doorbell rings! I am so disciplined though now at it that I just very politely get rid of whoever it is and go back to work. It's all about what you talk yourself into I guess when it comes to really working at home but for me, it totally works! Thanks for the read!


cwarden profile image

cwarden 5 years ago from USA

My best friend is a medical transcriptionist. She loves being able to work from home and enjoys a nice salary as well. Great hub.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks daydreamer13~!


daydreamer13 profile image

daydreamer13 5 years ago

Interesting! Well done!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks for stopping by, MMP - yes, who knew that I would take up a career that involves so much brain power! That would explain why I'm older than my time...ha ha - thanks so much for the read!


MyMastiffPuppies profile image

MyMastiffPuppies 6 years ago

Wow! I never realized how much was involved in training in the medical transcription field. It sounds inviting for the ability to work from home, especially with the cost of commuting and the overall job market. Excellent hub, voted up,useful and awesome...


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Darski - Thanks so much for being such a good friend...and it is a good thing to think about if you have the right qualifications in this ever-changing job market!


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Thank you all this well informed advise, so many folks are looking for work or changing what they have been doing, and you really can't go wrong in the medical field. I am so glad I am retired. You are my hero and my great friend, excellent hub and I rate up love darski


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks for stopping by, erthfrend - and glad to know you are among us that toil - even for a time!


erthfrend profile image

erthfrend 6 years ago from Florida

Excellent and informative hub. I was a medical transcriptionist for many years!

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