This ‘new wave’ of transcription called voice recognition is very similar to being a newspaper copy editor. I have had the opportunity to work at a newspaper many, many years ago as a newsroom clerk. That entailed more than just answering the phones, taking messages for the reporters in the newsroom. When the newsroom got pretty busy, I had the privilege of doing the work that a copy editor would do. A copy editor would edit the information of what the AP (Associated Press) and other news outlets’ news feeds brought in. This information came over the computer (as they considered it back then as being “hot off the press”) which constantly provided updated news events, articles, etc. and the copy editors would edit for correct spelling and verbiage of that article, thus signing off on it to meet press deadlines. Pretty similar to today’s speech recognition for medical transcription. One had to possess a journalism degree just to be a copy editor! Medical transcription has basically become this ‘copy editing’ thing – with less and less pay which is NOT good.
When I first began voice recognition back in 2007, I believe, I thought wow, this is going to be great! I feel like I’m back doing the copy editor thing again. Not so fast! Medical transcription takes a lot of medical terminology knowledge, research skills and almost the same amount of knowledge that a nurse and/or doctor may have. We must know the different laboratory values, the different medication dosages, and the correct/accurate terms because if those are wrong, then that health documentation is wrong. Nurses and doctors and other healthcare professionals depend on us to know exactly what we’re transcribing and, whether they really realize it or not, we are the lifeline of that patient’s healthcare documentation! Having all of this nonsensical garbly-goop come across through voice recognition is really dangerous. Heck – even back in my days of copy editing, the information didn’t come across the ‘AP wire’/computer that awful!
Don’t get me wrong – I do not hate voice recognition. It, as well as EMR’s have been useful in some ways. There are way more human bodies on this earth now than ever before and yes – the quicker we can get some things out faster than paperwork, the better. But, from a transcriptionist’s point of view, it can still be fine-tuned a lot. And by the way, it will never totally replace the transcriptionist!
As we must keep up with technology and the many advances of health information management and technology, it is painfully obvious that voice recognition is not going anywhere anytime soon – at least the creators of it have definitely invested way too much money for it to go away. Stay tuned this week for continued information as we continue to recognize Medical Transcription Week this week, as we’ll look into how a very small number of souls are passionately and vigorously standing up for us MT’s to hopefully get some standards in place and the respect and better pay that we so deserve.