Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is the Sun Setting on Medical Transcription?

Medical transcription in India started with a flourish more than a decade ago, but is now showing more and more signs of ending with a whimper.  Technology has caught up and the profile of the industry has changed radically; that it will no longer be an employee intensive industry is a fact all transcriptionists will have to recognize and live with. Companies in India for their own survival are opting for Voice Recognition systems and downsizing their workforce almost with a vengeance. The question is, will these companies themselves survive for more than 2-3 years?

At the beginning of the decade, things were looking great. There was always the risk of voice recognition coming into its own, but the quality of the transcript spewed out by voice recognition programs was beyond pathetic and transcriptionists heaved a sigh of relief, but voice rec bided its time and, well, the Empire Struck Back. Quality of transcripts improved dramatically, well not as great as company bigwigs claim them to be but they are definitely workable. I have some experience with Dragon and MModal, and some of my friends have worked on eScription used by Nuance. The general belief is eScription does a great job delivering consistently high accuracy outputs of above 90%. The other two are decent but there is still some way to go for them. One reason might be Nuance informs the clinics and hospitals it serves that they use a voice recognition platform and they actually take the trouble to spend time with the physician to familiarize them with the system and how best to dictate into it. With the dictator himself knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the system, obviously the output is that much better.