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Medical transcription: Bright future for medical transcriptionists

medical codingOne of the hot new careers is medical transcription which according to NASSCOM estimates has the potential to generate jobs for over 160,000 professionals annually.

With the IT revolution sweeping the country, a large number of new career options have opened up for the next generation of 21st century job seekers. One of the hot new careers is medical transcription (MT). As per NASSCOM estimates, the medical transcription industry has the potential to generate jobs for over 160,000 professionals annually and attain an aggregate industry revenue of Rs.9,000 crore per annum.

Medical Transcription is the process of converting free flow medical dictation into electronically formatted patient records which healthcare providers use for patient care and administrative purposes. A medical transcriptionist is a highly skilled and trained medical language specialist who listens to and deciphers the medical dictation of physicians and other healthcare professionals who verbalise a variety of medical reports such as emergency room visits, diagnostic imaging studies, operations, chart reviews, final summaries etc into dictaphone and tape recording machines. The medical transcriptionist then transcribes the dictated reports as necessary and returns them either in printed or electronic form to the ‘dictator for review, signature, or correction.

Today theres a sudden spurt in demand for companies with trained MTs. Unsurprisingly, a number of entrepreneurs across the metros and major cities of India who have ventured into this country are offering MT training programmes.

Graduates in any discipline with good English language skills, comprehension, English grammar, and keyboard skills are qualified to become medical transcriptionists. Nevertheless, every aspiring medical transcriptionist has to undergo intensive training to qualify as a professional. The training curriculum includes subjects such as Americanisms, phonetics, medical terminology, and computer skills. Success in this newly emergent profession requires documentation ability (not a keyboard specialist), and a high degree of fluency in medical language which requires intensive study.

HealthScribe, the largest MT company in India, has tied up with National Institute for Excellence in Teleworking (NEXT) in Bangalore to provide training to aspiring medical transcriptionists. The NEXT curriculum is the result of years of dedicated research by HealthScribe in developing a programme suitable for Indian conditions. HealthScribes tried and tested curriculum, training material, and trainers have been made available to NEXT so as to offer candidates the best training programme in the industry. Among the several other MT companies and training establishments which have mushroomed are:

Prithvi Surveys Pvt. Ltd, Pune
Centre for Medical Transcription Services, Bangalore
Indian Institute of Medical Transcription (IIMT), Gurgaon
Modern School of Medical Transcription, Kerala
Meridian Information Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore
MT India, Mumbai
Delectronic Equipment and Services Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi
Indo-American Medical Transcription, Bangalore
Webstar Institute of Medical Transcription, Bangalore
Global Institute of Teleworking, Bangalore
Wintel Institute of Medical Transcription, New Delhi
Armed Forces Medical College, Pune

GOOD OPPORTUNITIES. With the industry growing, there are good job opportunities in the MT business. The biggest MT company, HealthScribe India (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based HealthScribe Inc) has 450 employees at present and plans to significantly scale up operations.

Starting salaries in this industry are Rs.7,000 per month and a senior MT could progress to executive MT (Rs.8,000), trainer (Rs.12,000–18,000) to production manager (Rs.44,000). MT can also be a home-based business which could prove very rewarding and convenient for housewives.

After two years experience, an MT can apply for Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) and later for a Medical Language Specialist (MLS) certification to bring in higher remuneration. Capable MTs can move on to become supervisors, editors, trainers of MT and managers of training units. There are opportunities to go abroad also and many other countries are likely to offer similar work in India because of comparatively cheaper labour costs.

However, the profession has its flip side. Long working hours, including night shifts, can create monotony and fatigue. Besides, continuous exposure to computer monitors can have its own consequences.Despite all this, medical transcription provides vast opportunities of employment to students or even housewives having an academic background in physiology or para-medicine. The essential qualities one should possess for becoming a successful medical transcriptionist are: a good command over American English, understanding of medical terminology, and a good listening ability. If you possess the above qualities and have access to basic infrastructure like telephone lines, a computer server, MT programmes and hardware etc, then earning dollars should not be a distant dream.

A number of practising doctors are also working as medical transcriptionists. One of them is Dr. Meena Savashe (39), senior medical transcriptionist working full-time with the Mumbai-based MT India. A qualified ayurvedic doctor with a bachelors degree in ayurvedic medicine and surgery (BAMS) from Pune, Savashe was practising ayurvedic medicine in Pune after graduating in 1990. In 1998 she had to move to Mumbai and signed up with the MT company, S. Amit & Co, where she received her training before moving to MT India. With a medical background, you definitely have an advantage in this career. I enjoy this work which is a great learning experience for a doctor as you get to know about the latest developments in medical science in the US where it is far more advanced than here,” says Savashe.

Dr. Savashe who supervises the editing of medical reports and is also involved in R&D feels that MT is a good profession for women who have young children as they can work from home if they are adequately trained. When a doctor in the US completes his days work, all his files are transferred to our servers here in India. For example, at 9 p.m. US time, its 9 a.m in India and an MT in India can transcribe the document and by 6 p.m. IST we can upload it as a report. The next morning the report is ready at the doctors table for approval and signature

Sums up Savashe: The future is bright for young MT aspirants as its a growing field, and with rapid advances in telecom technology MT projects could create a large number of jobs in smaller cities in India where jobs are desperately needed

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