Thursday, September 13, 2007

Digital Sorting and Routing

What about the computer which runs the digital dictation system? How has that affected a transcriptionist's work?

The most dramatic change is that transcriptionists are steadily moving away from tapes and prefer to listen to digitally-recorded sound. Why should they do this when some doctors prefer to dictate into handheld cassette recorders? Because this is one instance in which technological advances are working on the side of the medical transcriptionist.

Digitally-recorded sound is far superior to the sound a transcriptionist hears on cassette tapes. Because the recording process is voice activated, there is none of the static that was encountered on cassette tapes thatwere old and needed to be replaced. Nor is there any of the choppiness that used to occur when doctors would click on and off with their hand controls. Instead, the transcriptionist listens to a seamless string of words. This makes it much easier to hear and understand the dictating physician.
Because a transcriptionist can dial into a digital dictation system (or download sound files to a computer) at any hour of day or night, there is little need to worry about making arrangements to pick up and drop off tapes (or pay a courier service for transporting tapes across town). This fact alone can dramatically increase a transcriptionist's productivity and earnings.
If for any reason (a power failure at a remote location, a home emergency, or a transcriptionist's inability to understand a certain doctor's accent) a job needs to be rerouted to another transcriptionist, this can easily be accomplished electronically without having to manually transport a tape from one location to another.
Although batches of work can be sorted by management according to job type, author, or time of dictation, the ability of medical transcriptionists to play an electronic version of musical chairs facilitates work being transcribed on a FIFO (first-in, first-out) basis. This makes it easier for transcriptionists to meet contractual obligations for turnaround time and relieves the pressure of trying to have one person drain the "STAT" line.
Digital dictation systems offer several other important advantages to transcriptionists. Since these systems usually have the capacity to assign as many as 100 different report type codes, a physician with specialized needs (e.g., cardiac catheterizations or electrophysiological studies) can have transcriptionists use a variety of macros and templates to customize the formatting of his work.

Next: Digital Logging And Tracking

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