Sunday, May 20, 2012

Transcriptionists File Class Action Suit

On May 11, 2012, the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley, LLC and the Riggan Law Firm, wage and hour law firms, filed an individual and collective class action lawsuit for unpaid wages and overtime pay against Transcend Services, Inc., a corporation which provides medical transcription services to hospitals and medical providers throughout the United States. The nationwide collective action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Read more about the lawsuit against Transcend.

The fact that this lawsuit comes on the heels of Nuance acquiring Transcend is perhaps only coincidental.

This really raises the entire question of whether Medical Transcriptionists are recognized and paid fairly for the knowledge work that they do. It is likely that some of those reading this post might not be entirely familiar what with is expected of a transcriptionist. You may want to take a look at one of my older posts on this topic, The Common Well. The old definition of the MT being an overpaid typist and an underpaid physician comes to mind when going through the current debate. Julie Weight, one of the earliest proponents for fair practices in the Medical Transcription industry, writes forcefully about the background and the relevance of this new development.

Terming the silence of knowledge workers in the transcription industry a variant of the Stockholm Syndrome, she says in her blog post.

I had abusive clients over the years. I put up with their abuse for a number of reasons, but the primary reason was I was making good money and I used that to justify tolerating the abusive behaviors. One day, I decided I’d had enough. I terminated a long-time client who represented a substantial amount of my income. I liken it to having a splinter you’re afraid to remove – it doesn’t seem that bad, it’s not festering too much and it’s not frankly infected so out of fear (or whatever reason), you just leave it alone. When you finally pull the splinter out, you realize how painful and annoying it’s been and wonder why you tolerated the pain for so long just because you were afraid to pull it out. That’s how I felt when I finally removed that splinter. For me, the stress relief far outweighed the loss of income. It takes a lot of courage to stand up, but at some point you have to ask yourself what do I really have to lose? Many of the MTs involved in this lawsuit are struggling to make a living – not just a decent living, but a minimum wage living. For a job that requires as much knowledge and intelligence as medical transcription, that’s just not right. And I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will say (or think) well why not just get another job? First of all – why should they have to? THEY haven’t don’t anything wrong. Second, I suspect Transcend isn’t the only company that employs these tactics or has these problems, and many MTs have gone from company to company, trying to find a fit, only to experience similar treatment.

Medical transcriptionists need to stop being afraid of what will happen to them if they speak up, and start thinking about what is happening to them because they aren’t speaking up.

It will be interesting to see how many MTs join this class action and how many additional actions are filed against other transcription service companies that employ the same abusive tactics. If you think you belong to the class action against Transcend, there’s a link to instructions in the Dolley law office blog. I encourage transcriptionists to stand up for themselves; in the end, it will benefit not only individual MTs, but the industry as a whole.

At a time when knowledge workers in the Medical Transcription industry are coping with the greatest paradigm shift ever, recognizing the value of their true contribution is essential. I strongly urge all readers of this blog to take a look at what Julie has to say about this.

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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Worldtech Kolkata's Fifth Anniversary

The Kolkata Unit of Worldtech recently celebrated its fifth anniversary on June 25, 2011.

A small program was organized by the team to observe the occasion.  It was held at Gold Banquets on Russell Street.

Mementos were given to Associates who completed 5 years with the Unit to appreciate their sincerity and contribution.

The party started with a speech by the unit head, after which mementos were distributed.  

A cake was cut in honor of the birthday person, Worldtech Kolkata.

A DJ night was organized, with vibrant and rocking music and it was good to see the entire team joining the dance floor.  Children and spouses also joined the fun and had a great time.  It was like one big family was partying that night.  

One of the unit leaders observed, "Looking back at how and where we started it was satisfying to see how we have grown but there is room for lot of improvement and growth still and with hard work and sincerity we hope we can keep raising our bar."

A sumptuous dinner brought the evening festivities to a close.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Michael Finke Receives 2011 Carnegie Science Award | EMR, EHR and Healthcare IT News

The Carnegie Science Awards, assigned by the Carnegie Science Center and sponsored by Eaton Corporation, promote outstanding science and technology achievements in western Pennsylvania and help fund Science Center exhibits and educational programs across the state.

Celebrating its15th year, the Carnegie Science Awards have honored the accomplishments of more than 275 individuals and organizations that have improved lives through their commitment and contributions in science and technology.

Read more over at EMR and HIPAA News

M*Modal CEO Receives 2011 Carnegie Science Award | EMR, EHR and Healthcare IT News

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How do babies learn to speak and write?

This is from the wikipedia.

Information theory was a very trendy scientific approach in the mid 50s.[12] However, pioneer Claude Shannon mused in 1956 that this trendiness was dangerous: "Our fellow scientists in many different fields, attracted by the fanfare and by the new avenues opened to scientific analysis, are using these ideas in their own problems. [...] It will be all too easy for our somewhat artificial prosperity to collapse overnight when it is realized that the use of a few exciting words like information, entropy, redundancy, do not solve all our problems."[17] Indeed over the next decade, a combination of factors would shut down application of information theory to natural language processing (NLP) problems, in particular machine translation. These were the publication of Noam Chomsky's Syntactic Structures in 1957, in which he stated that only logical rule-based approaches to language analysis were ultimately useful. This accorded well with Artificial Intelligence research of the time, which promoted rule-based approaches. These factors were based on scientific trends. The third factor was to to be the 1966 ALPAC report, which recommended that the government stop funding research in machine translation. ALPAC chairman John Pierce later characterised that field as filled with "mad inventors or untrustworthy engineers". He argued that the underlying linguistic problems had to be solved first before attempts at NLP could be reasonably made. Combined, these three elements essentially halted research in the field.[5][18]

As I begin my 10 calendar days in full screen netbook mode on chrome only with a full working week included in it, the first thought that crosses my mind is not, fortunately, a review of my 2010 and my determinations going forward, which all your comments and emails have led me to give some thought to too, but a tip of the hat to the way technology has changed our lives.  Jelinek died on September 14, 2010, and now with latitude and voice apps, our web presence has taken on a meaning that no one would have ascribed to the phrase web presence 10 years, or even 5 years back.  GOOG-411 was phased out and Google Voice and the enterprise ranges of Microsoft and Dragon are promising to be desktop permanents on the thin clients of today.  2010 was a turbulently good year in some ways for some people.

A pioneer in speech recognition and linguistic engineering, Jelinek was one of the first to dream of practical ways to make human expression machine comprehensible.  Today voice apps and speech to other interactive formats are commonplace.  Think of the AI built into IVR for example, something we use all the time today.  Doctors use VR to generate transcripts of patient records, drivers talk to speech-recognition systems in cars that reply with driving directions; and customer questions to call centers are increasingly being answered by automated speech systems.

How does the magic of speech to other formats work?  To figure that out, it is necessary to reflect on a far more complex process - that of human language and expression, and how the human brain processes it.  To give you an idea of the complexity, consider for a moment an infant being exposed to spoken language for the first time in its existence.  How does it unravel the sounds to discern starts and ends, subjects and verbs, and how does it create its database of word-phrase clusters that the Wernicke and Broca later integrate into predictive listening and comprehending.

The NYT obituary for Jelinek says, “In early speech research, there were two camps. One was the linguists. They argued that humans were best at recognizing speech and that therefore computer models should be based mainly on human language concepts — rules about syntax, grammar and meaning.

Mr. Jelinek, an electrical engineer, took a different tack, advocating the use of statistical tools. In this approach, spoken words are converted to digital form, and the computer is then trained to recognize words and appropriate word order in sentences, based on repeated patterns and statistical probability.”

Jelinek broke free from the traditional approach of trying to reproduce language intelligence the way the neurons of our brain do it, and developed a statistical and probability model that (much later) integrated with the more orthodox grammatical and syntactical endeavours.

When I began dabbling with transcription of medical reports back in 1994-95, speech recognition was a distant dream, but then the work had already begun on the early engines that were working only out of inputs available to it.  All of us were quick to dismiss it as 10 years out in the future.  We renewed our dismissal every five years.

What has happened in the last 20 years on a completely different front and one in which open internet interfaces and services have played a key role is the generation of an entire social environment on the web, replete with every imagineable form of speech processing taking place real time.  Think Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, discussion boards, chat rooms, and the ability to anonymously and securely use this minefield of language process data to refine the cluster models that are at the core of most contemporary algorithms in this field.

Someone asked me once why I spend so much time on a blog with a grand total of six and a half subscribers, two of them family.  My answer at that point in time was that I was endeavouring to record my speech system in order to improve artificial speech intelligence.  I will not forget the look on her face.  The fact that I was obviously living at thrice the speed of light didnt help matters much.

Today you have millions and millions of people putting out millions and millions of little bits and big bits of expression out in living digital language that can be mined, interpreted, and responded to in a similar fashion, in any format!!  And as each day passes, each moment, each keystroke as I write for you and you alone, this database of how we think and how we express what we think and tell each other what we want to hear from each other is growing more and more valuable and larger.

Search engines and language interpretation modules have a database that is growing in this inconceivable leaps-and-bounds fashion with the millions of you and me blogging, writing and reading and writing about what we are reading, emailing, tweeting, updating status on SNS’s.

I will not waste your time.  Keep winning.  Have a very happy new year.

If you like music, you will want to read.
The Operative Note
If you like food, you will want to read
The unedited mutton dalcha recipe
If you love movies, you will want to read
If you like pictures, you can see

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to search medical terms or words

From Venu's Askribe email newsletter.

How to search medical terms or words ?
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ---
Almost all persons who are  transcribing medical voice files into text, search for medical words or medical terms. Many people use dictionaries related to medical field. There are so many types of dictionaries. I think there are some 10 to 15 dictionaries for searching medical terms and words, but I am not sure.
Is there an alternative to search medical words or terms without first looking into the dictionaries? Now read the below examples.
Example No. 1
I was hearing the voice file and I typed "Altram". After that I searched for the word "Altram" in the medical dictionaries to find if there is any such word. However I could not find the word. After 2 days I found that the correct word was "Ultram". Now if you carefully observe the two words "Altram" and "Ultram", there is only a difference of first letter of the word. The rest of the letters in the word is same. In most cases you can only search for the correct word if you know the correct initial letters of the word. Otherwise it would be difficult to find the words.
Example No.2
After hearing some voice file I typed "Pulse ______97%___ __". At first I could hear only "97%" and after a repeat hearing of the voice file I could hear the word "Pulse". However I knew I was missing more than one word. Now the question is how to find more than one word or pattern of words. Can we search the dictionaries ?
Example No.3
I could only type "Flex_____sig" after hearing a voice file. However at first I typed "Flexsig" and then I typed "Flex Sig". I knew there was something wrong. The question is how will you find the two words correctly? Can you search the dictionaries ? If yes, then which dictionary you will use to search for the correct words ?
Can you answer the above questions? Can you search for the pattern of medical words or terms in dictionaries? Is there an alternative to search medical words or terms without first looking into the dictionaries?
You can search text pattern or words or phrase using tools like grep,awk,sed, etc., . These tools are found in almost all Linux operating systems.
Below are some examples to search medical words and terms.
grep -i  '^[ua]ltram'  mtwords.txt
grep -i  '[ua].*ram'  mtwords.txt
grep -i  '[ua].*am'  mtwords.txt
grep -i  'tram'  mtwords.txt
grep -i  'pulse.*97.* '  mtwords.txt
grep -i  'pulse.*9[012345678 9].*'  mtwords.txt
grep -i  'flex.*sig'  mtwords.txt
grep is a tool which prints lines matching a pattern. And mtwords.txt is a text file which contains all the medical terms or words sequentially. You can create your own mtwords.txt file. Open a text editor and write some medical terms,words or phrase. Below is an example.
------------ Sample of mtwords.txt file-------- ------
Pulse oximetry 97% on room air
Flexible sigmoidoscopy
moderate amount of cerumen
mild cerumen
itchy ears
pharyngitis รข€“ viral
841 Burke Avenue, Bronx
New York 10467
------------ End of mtwords.txt file ------------ -----
After creating the above mtwords.txt file you can use grep to search words,terms, phrase etc.,. Remember the tool grep is a command line tool.
In the above file (mtwords.txt) you can write any medical term or word or names of medicines, medical phrase, names of persons or doctors, names of places etc., You can also update this file easily because it is only a text file. New medical terms or phrase can be added easily to this file.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Almost all Linux operating systems have tools like grep, awk, sed, etc.,These tools are command line tools. There are also different versions of these tools and all these versions have some difference. And again there is also some difference between the format of text file in Linux and Windows operating system. You should have some working knowledge of the operating systems like Linux. You should have some knowledge about regular expressions. And finally you should have some knowledge about the tools like grep, awk, sed etc.,
I will explain with one example on using grep.
grep -i   '^[ua]ltram'   mtwords.txt
In the above example  grep is the command and -i is an option to the grep command and '^[ua]ltram' is a regular expression (also called search pattern) and mtwords.txt is the text file which contains all the medical words, terms or phrase. Here we are searching the mtwords.txt file to find if there is any word which begins with ultram or Ultram or altram or Altram. Since there is no word such as altram, only ultram or Ultram will be displayed on the screen. See the above examples on grep. You can search for the word Ultram in any manner. If you can guess some letters or characters in a word or phrase or medical term correctly, then you can search for the correct word.

This article is written by V.Venkateswara Rao e-mail and yahoo chat ID is venkatesh3004 @

I had placed a query along similar lines, on the net(askribe) several days back. Well, I found the above article(s)  enlightening.
I would like to  modify my query(of last) somewhat, in that, firstly, I am working on a Windows Platform(XP), not Linux.  Secondly, when it comes to the technical part(Line editor) and so on, I am a novice. Though, I do have some general idea on the topic.
Since there are a lot of  E-packages( Medical Dictionaries on Tehnical phrases, medicine, etc.,) on the net, and that too freely downloadable, I would be grateful if you could suggest any proven package that would suffice my requirements.
Thanking You,
My address:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CBAY Systems file for $115 million US IPO

Medical transcription services company CBaySystems Holdings Ltd. on Monday filed for an initial public offering worth as much as $115 million.  The Franklin, Tenn., company handles medical transcription, billing, and coding services for about 2,400 hospitals, clinics, and practices in the U.S. CBaySystems did not say how many shares it plans to sell or when it plans to complete its IPO. It also did not disclose a proposed ticker symbol for its shares.

Read the Businessweek story here.