Thursday, July 16, 2009

Transcription Tips & Tricks

Make sure your transcriber is in good repair: Clean and service your transcriber regularly according to the owner's manual or have it serviced regularly at the dealer. Having your machine(s) serviced around the time of your birthday or some other easily remembered annual event is a good way to ensure you don't forget to get the servicing done.

Make sure you are comfortably seated: You should always try to find the very best chair you, or your employer can reasonably afford. If there are protests about the cost of a really good ergonomic chair (they can easily cost from PKR 1000.00 to over PKR 1500.00) remind your employer the cost involved if you do get work-related injuries caused by a poor chair. The cost of you going on medical leave will be much more detrimental to your employer than the initial cost of good ergonomic furniture. If you are a home-based transcriptionist, the same advice applies, buy the best ergonomically engineered furniture you can afford. For the home-based worker it is a real necessity because if you can't transcribe, chances are you aren't earning any money. Most home-based workers do not have any kind of health or income insurance to rely on so must ensure they continue to have the ability to produce work. Following proper procedures to avoid work-related repetitive stress injury will ensure you have a long transcribing career.

Try to keep your work environment quiet: Seasoned medical transcriptionists know how important it is to have their surroundings as quiet as possible. No doubt this is sometimes impossible, either because you work from home and have small children to contend with or maybe you are in a busy transcription pool with people coming and going. Fast, accurate transcription is most attainable when you can concentrate on the dictated words and virtually nothing else. While you are able to transcribe with ambient noise, speed and accuracy are almost always adversely affected. If you are working in a transcription pool, make sure your supervisor keeps regular "office traffic" away from your area. If your place of work does not have rules about a quiet zone for medical transcription, you may want to raise this idea with your supervisor or employer. Everyone will benefit from you being able to do your work in peace and quiet. If you work from home, you may find that doing work in the evening or through the night becomes the most productive time for you, if you can fit that kind of shift into your life.

Would You Please Repeat That - Slowly: Many physicians are so bad at dictating that you need some special techniques to understand exactly what they are saying. If you find it very difficult to understand a particular dictator, try these approaches: If your transcriber has a "tone" adjustment, make sure it is set to make the dictator's voice sound "raw" - i.e., little or no bass. Do the same if you have a "bass" control. Removing as much bass as possible allows the words to be heard more clearly. Unfortunately it may also accentuate any static on the tape. Try adjusting the tape playback speed from very, very slow to fast. Sometimes varying the speed of the tape transport will allow you to pick up on what is being said. Try unplugging your headset and playing the tape out of the transcriber speaker, if there is one. Try having someone else listen to the passage you are having trouble with (remembering confidentiality issues, of course). Make a note where the unintelligible section is on the tape, using your tape counter, and come back later to see if being away from it for a while helps you to "listen anew." One or a combination of all these approaches will sometimes help.

No Guessing: Avoid guessing about what you hear. If the problem dictation involves drug names, drug dosages, patient-described symptoms, etc., guessing incorrectly could have life-threatening implications if your error goes through the health system unnoticed. The safest, professional, and ethical approach is to leave a blank in the transcription, making sure to make a notification on the report about the area of dictation needing clarification by the dictating physician. Of course, if there is a way to verify what is being said by contacting the actual dictating physician or his/her staff, this is the best, quickest and sometimes easiest way to handle questions about problem tape passages.

Telling It Like It Is: If the dictating physician is a chronically bad dictator, you will be doing yourself and other transcriptionists a favour by letting him/her know that they need to improve their technique. One of the best cures for a chronically bad dictator is to return transcription with every questionable word or passage left blank. By doing this regularly, you are indicating that the dictation is constantly poor. If someone, including the bad dictator, tries to imply you just don't have the skill to perform their work, show them successful transcription you have done from other physicians who know how to dictate properly. When all else fails, simply refuse to do their work if you are in a position to do so. Self-employed transcriptionists will often drop a client rather than agonize constantly day-in, day-out, over what is being dictated.

Maximizing Keyboarding: One of the ways to ensure you are getting as much work done as possible is to make use of abbreviations. If you are serious about making medical transcription from home a small-business, you really have to learn to use abbreviations to speed up your work. Some word-processors have spelling features that allow you to use auto-correction when transcribing at your computer. You can use this feature to expand words "on the fly." For instance, instead of having to always type "examination," you can instruct the speller to expand an abbreviation like "exn" to the word "examination." You can also purchase software specifically designed to abbreviate and expand words and phrases. Some hospital or clinic dictation systems, unfortunately, make no allowance for using abbreviation software or features.

Get Rid of Rodents: Most professionals who use word-processing software avoid using their desktop mouse like the plague. Taking your fingers from the keyboard slows you down, so if you want to really churn out the work you must learn keyboard shortcuts for as many actions as possible. Most word-processors give a keyboard equivalent for an action you point to with your mouse, especially on main menu items.

Using shortcut keys in Windows: Learning the shortcut keystrokes for Windows (see table below) will help you perform general program actions faster. Many of the Windows commands are common to most windows programs. If you are currently using word-processor specific commands that correspond to the commands below, you may want to consider changing your word-processor preferences to match these common shortcut keys.


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