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How To Do Medical Transcription From Home

Updated on June 19, 2013

MT Jobs

In a day and age where gasoline is costing $4 a gallon to get from here to there, the ideal job is one that you can do with the minimum expense possible. That means anything you can do that requires less gas and commute time is going to end up putting money back into your wallet. What better way to save time and money than to work at home?

As someone who has been transcribing as an medical transcriptionist for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a dream job in many ways. However, the top of the line part of this job is when you can do it from home.

Interestingly though, it is now easier than ever to work as a transcriptionist and get a job in medical transcription working at home than it ever used to be.

With the advent of the Internet and telecommuting, the sky's the limit for many careers. Jobs working at home are quite common these days but especially so in the medical transcription industry.

Let's take a look at what it takes to do medical transcription from home.


How To Do Medical Transcription

First and foremost, in order to do medical transcription, you definitely need some prerequisites. If you haven't already taken medical transcription courses, you definitely would need to do that before embarking on MT as a career.

You can take medical terminology and medical transcription courses in a bricks and mortar environment or you can enroll in courses on line. My recommendation would be that even if it costs more that you apply to an accredited college for medical transcription. This means that you have a better chance of getting current information and curriculum as opposed to older, not as relevant courses. Check at the AHDI website for accredited college programs.

Most schools do have internship programs and if you do well in the courses, achieving an 85% to 90% average grade, you should qualify for an apprenticeship program. This can also usually be done from home.

There are some inherent qualities that define the skill set needed to go into MT as a career. You might be looking at the right career if you can:

  • Type fairly quickly without mistakes - this is really important - go on line and take a quick typing test at the link listed below
  • Take a look at some sample transcription on the video below - check some mt sample websites - see what it's all about
  • Are you good at research?
  • Do you have above average English and grammar skills?
  • Can you work independently without someone looking over your shoulder and babysitting you to get your work done?
  • How do you feel about getting paid by the line? That is how most MT jobs are paid these days (more on that later)
  • Some transcription jobs will have set hours/schedules while others you can flex your time - for instance if you have your own accounts

Check out the typing test here.

MT Equipment

If you want to work at home, you'll have to have your own equipment. That is part and parcel of the transcribing tools necessary to do the job. Some transcription services do provide certain parts of equipment to their employees, though this is becoming less and less true with all the Internet based transcription that's done today.

Doing MT work from home, several factors come into play. Let's say that you have gotten your certificate and you've worked through an internship and now you're ready to be employed by a transcription service that you interned with. You'll already have had to have or are going to need the following:

  • A computer with lots of extra RAM and memory that will allow multiple programs to be open at once
  • High speed Internet - dial-up just won't cut it and most companies don't like satellite or cable because they are too unreliable
  • Up-to-date operating system with firewall and antivirus software that is consistently updated
  • Cell phone or telephone where you can be reached
  • Designated office space although with laptops you can be more flexible. However, if you do have a room that is an office, you can track your expenses and right off part of your rent or mortgage if you do it properly and meet the correct criteria.
  • High-grade speakers - optional but they really do make a difference
  • Adjustable headphones with mixer capability - again, cheaper will do but you will regret it
  • Transcription foot pedal dependent upon your computer - serial port or USB port, wireless or even a proprietary one required by an employer
  • Transcription software to play digital files - sometimes this is unnecessary if you work for a transcription service as they have their own on-line
  • Printer - again optional but it really comes in handy
  • Medical dictionary software
  • Drug index software or books
  • Text expander - optional but sure comes in handy and saves time
  • Ergonomically sound desk and chair

For those of you who haven't seen someone doing transcription before or want to learn more about the actual mechanics, watch the video below.

Transcription Factors

There are many things that make medical transcription jobs from home a lucrative career. Most of it revolves around your skill level and the quality of the transcription that you produce. Success is also based on timeliness. Whether you are working for a giant transcription service or you are working for local doctors and clinics, the bottom line is turnaround time. Records need to be done and back on charts or electronic records in a timely fashion.

Just because you work at home doesn't mean that those standards are lowered. In fact, most companies expect even more dedication and timeliness because people are working out of their own home. They figure you have less stress, less commuting issues, etc. and you should be able to do your job easily and punctually. If you have a hard time managing your time or are easily distracted by outside influences such as children, friends dropping by, etc., working at home as a medical transcriptionist is not for you.

However, if you are self-disciplined and are dedicated to finding work to do from home, it is a very lucrative career. As I mentioned above, most MTs and editors are paid by the line. This varies dependent upon experience, level of difficulty of what you are transcribing, and who you work for.

According to labor statistics, currently about 80% of medical transcription jobs are through transcription companies. The other 20% consist of transcriptionists working for doctor offices, clinics, hospitals, etc.

Many people also worry about the heavy use of speech recognition technology and what the future of the transcription industry looks like. In spite of this advanced technology, editors are still required and even though it has slowed the projected rate of growth in this profession, there are thousands of jobs in the field. However, with the advent of the technology and the slowed potential growth, it has made the field extremely competitive.

If you grow as a medical transcriptionist and learn the ropes so to speak by learning many specialties, doing English as a second language (ESL) dictators, harder reports such as heart procedures or operation reports, you will have a great deal of success in advancing. Being stuck in one specialty for too long or looking for only "easy" reports will probably not get you very far on the transcription ladder.

The logical step for an MT working at home is to become a QC editor. I am such an editor. I edit other transcriptionists' work or edit speech recognized dictation 8 hours per day. However, I have advanced (now) to the point where I am paid by the hour. There is still a per hour line quota involved that you must achieve to be paid at each level, but the good news is that I am not paid piecemeal any longer.

By and large though, most medical transcription jobs are based upon a per line rate; you get paid so many cents per line by a doctor or clinic or you get paid so much per line to type for a transcription service. If you do not type, you do not get paid. Strong incentive to do your job!

Check out the pros and cons below. Like every job, MT jobs have good points and not so good points to consider. The successful home-based medical transcriptionist learns how to balance the two factors.

MT Career Pros and Cons

Can work from home
No socialization face to face
Save on daycare costs
Sitting all day long
Make a decent wage
Long term effects of overuse syndromes
Can be more flexible type of job
Can have quotas to meet
Benefits/employee status are possible
Constant computer screen use
Advancement potential
Constant headphone use
Can take breaks
Never "leave" the office

Jobs Working at Home

The most important factor in getting a medical transcription job and finding work to do from home is deciding what transcribing jobs are out there and which you qualify for. Apply for many. Apply to MT services and apply at doctors' offices and hospitals. It's amazing today how many clinics and hospitals allow their employees to work from home.

Do you want to be a subcontractor or do you want to be an employee? With healthcare costs the way they are today, being an employee can have many benefits, including healthcare premiums being reduced. Many transcription companies also offer PTO - or paid time off. That is a fantastic incentive over being a self-employed subcontractor.

On the other side of the coin though, as a subcontractor, you generally make about twice what an employee would make - though in today's market that sounds great but it really doesn't turn out to be all that great. Consider as well in this scenario that you may have to print the documents and courier them back and forth to the office. Did you make as much as you thought you would?

Or if you have to subcontract with someone else to help you with the typing, you'll lose about half of your income paying another transcriptionist like you to work from home.

These are all factors to consider when looking for MT jobs, especially ones to do from home. Many transcription services require experience and it's a catch 22 if you're just starting out. If you're fresh out of school and have no experience, how can you get hired?

That's one great thing about many transcription programs on-line. They do usually offer internship programs where you work for a company through the transcription course and they place you into internship. Though you do not receive pay for the time (usually 3-6 months), you acquire the experience you need and most often are hired by the company you interned for. That's a great way to get your transcribing foot in the door.

Most importantly, to secure a job in medical transcription and to work from home, you'll need to be persistent and check out all the possibilities. Working from home is pretty much a win/win situation unless you happen to be the type of person who can't live without social interaction with other people on the job. Then you might find it a bit tedious and very lonely.

However, for the self-motivated, not easily distracted, computer savvy transcriptionist, it can be just the ticket to make a great wage and be at home at the same time. It's a great career for someone with a family and where both spouses have to work. It can save you a bundle on child care costs. It also gives you the freedom to be available and to be more flexible than you could if you worked a traditional transcription job in an institution like a hospital or an office and were gone for 8-10 hours per day.

This should give you a few things to think about if you're considering a job in medical transcription but especially an MT job from home. Consider all your options but don't be afraid to think outside the box down the road. This is only one on-line career that can be very lucrative for the right person - and it is a job that can be done from home.


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