Thursday, September 13, 2007


When hospitals first started farming out overload work to medical transcription agencies, two critical problems became apparent. One was how to get the media containing the doctor's dictation into the transcriptionist's hands. The other was how to get the finished work product back.
This was usually accomplished by having a driver physically pick up and deliver packages of cassette tapes (which had to be logged in and logged out) to transcription agencies and/or independent contractors working out of their homes. Unfortunately, delivery schedules could be severely impacted by rush-hour traffic, gridlock from urban congestion, bad weather conditions, and a variety of other factors. After a batch of dictation had been transcribed and needed to be returned to the hospital, there was always a critical time lag encountered between the time the transcriptionist finished transcribing reports and the time those reports made it into the patients' charts.
In an age of instant gratification (when people are hungry for information as soon as it is available) electronic transmission of data is mandatory for medical reports. In critical situations, a medical report that needs to be viewed on an urgent basis can be faxed directly from a transcriptionist's word processor to a location thousands of miles away and arrive within minutes. Using fax/modem devices, electronic files can travel one mile or 10,000 miles in the same amount of time.
How does this happen? Fax/modems are devices which allow computers to "talk" to each other by transferring data over telephone lines. Just as modems allow people to simultaneously access on-line services from multiple sites around the world, they allow medical transcriptionists to work in remote locations and transfer the electronic files containing their transcribed reports to the end user.
If a hospital's computers are on a network, files can also be directed to printers at remote locations. Thus, reports pertaining to patients who are on the eighth floor of a hospital can be routed to the printer at the eighth floor nursing station and start printing within seconds after completion. This cuts down on the time and manpower needed to manually deliver each transcribed report.

When files are transmitted electronically, the end user often has the capability of making any amendments or corrections necessary before the physician signs off on the finished document. This can save as much as two days' time that is traditionally lost in the process of correcting errors and omissions in medical reports.

In recent years, many transcription services have begun to use software that allows users to access files from any computer by signing in to a particular on-line service with an appropriate screen name and password. This has proven to be a great help in the speed with which reports can be processed and edited by both sides of the dictation/transcription team.

Next: What's In It For Me?

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