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What to Expect as a Home Based Medical Transcriptionist by Cynthia Dixon

You roll out of bed feeling refreshed. You wonder into the bathroom and freshen yourself up for the start of a new day. You go back into the bedroom and find that you actually have time to make your bed. You then proceed to the kitchen, prepare breakfast and coffee, step out side of your door to get the morning newspaper, and then sit down to breakfast and the news and actually have time to enjoy it!

Afterwards, you drift over to your computer, hit the power button. You walk over to the window and stretch, taking in the morning sun, and then over to the computer to begin your work day. Wow, is this a dream? Am I in some bed and breakfast? No, this is my kitchen. I'm wearing my pajamas, so what's going on? Don't you remember silly? You're a home based medical transcriptionist.

How does that sound to you? Does it sound impossible? Take it from me, it's not. This happens every day for hundreds of women and men. This is the start of the day for many home based medical transcriptionists and could be how YOUR day starts! Let me explain in a little more detail what you can expect as a home based medical transcriptionist.

After you have gained employment with a transcription service provider, you will be sent computer equipment, materials, and forms that require your signature. These forms will include privacy forms where you agree to the patient privacy act. This form states that you will not disclose any patient information that you come in contact with. You will also be signing a form stating that you agree to work for this company and that you understand their rules and regulations.

You will receive W2 forms for tax purposes. You will sign a form stating that you received all equipment that was mailed, that it functions properly, and will be returned upon your date of employment termination. There may be other forms that you'll come in contact with depending upon the transcription service that you'll be working for. All of these forms will need to be returned to your employer. I advice you to get a copy of each form before returning.

You will be given a start date for orientation, along with an actual start date to begin transcribing on a probationary level. Your orientation will be via teleconference or via webinar/internet. Your probationary period varies in length and depends upon your supervisor, and if she/he feels you're ready to begin typing reports that no longer require editorial review. Do not expect more than a month's time to get up to speed.

The transcription service is relying on you to know your stuff and return those reports. You will be given information about the facility that you will be transcribing for and also receive a listing of their transcription rules, format, and style. You will more than likely have to type verbatim. Most facilities do not allow you to alter the dictation file. Even when a doctor uses profanity, you have to type that into the report.

You will be able to dial in and listen to your supervisor and fellow co-workers. You will discuss your responsibilities in regards to your line count, turn-around-time, and your probationary period and it's length. Your probationary period consists of you typing actual reports that will become a legal part of the patient's chart, but has to be reviewed by a medical transcription editor before it's sent to be uploaded into the patient's medical record.

Let's look at a typical work day for a home based medical transcriptionist once she begins her shift. When she/he sits down at the computer, they will log into the transcription services system. You will of course have a username and password. Once you have logged in, you will click on a button that's titled "get jobs". This does depend upon the service you work for. Once you've clicked on this button, the transcription system will download two files to your desktop. These files will be the physician's dictation. You type in the work station open window.

Once the job has been completed, you will click on a button that's titled "return job." As you return one job, you will be sent another. This will provide you with a continuous flow of dictation that has to be transcribed. There will usually be two jobs in your queue. Again, this depends upon the transcription service. You will be provided with a foot pedal that is used to control the speed of playback for the dictated sound file.

It's awesome when this entire process takes place. You are working for a company that could be on the west coast and you live on the east coast. You receive a digital sound file and send back a written report - technology is so cool! You will be allowed lunch time. When it's time to have lunch or end your shift. You simply stop what you're doing and return the job.

This uploads the sound file back to the transcription service and will allow another transcriptionist to receive for typing/transcribing. You will more than likely be assigned to a particular facility/hospital. But, at times you may type for another facility if there aren't any jobs pending for the facility that you normally type for.

When just starting out, this can be a very awkward and scary time. As a new medical transcriptionist, you will need to find your rhythm. When I first started, I wanted to make sure that everything was spelled correctly. I would take out my trusty old medical dictionary and seek out the correct spelling of words. Reviewing and proofing does take up time.

Some services will advise you to leave blanks and send the report to editing. Blanks are used when you cannot make out what the physician is saying or when the report has bad sound quality, and if the dictation was cut off or is lost. YOU SHOULD NEVER GUESS when transcribing dictation. There are some medical terms that sound alike, but have different meanings. So DO NOT GUESS!

I found that I didn't like sending my reports to editing. I didn't want my reports to be incomplete. The facility that I worked for would not upload a report into a patient's record that had more than three blanks. If so, the report was sent to editing. When a report goes to editing, a transcription editor listens to the same file you listened to and tries to fill in the blanks. If they cannot understand, the report is then loaded into the transcription system and sent to the medical facility for printing. The report will be placed into the patient's chart with blanks and the doctor has to physically fill them in.

I currently work at a hospital that is all digital, so when a report comes back with blanks, the doctor is sent a message and is told to dictate an addendum to his previous report or to list the information and the transcription support personnel will fill in the blanks inside the transcription system. Once the report is complete, it will be uploaded into the patient's electronic medical record.

When a job is complete and does not require editorial review, it is uploaded back to the system by the medical transcriptionist and bypasses the editor. The report is sent directly to the facility for printing and will be placed inside a paper based chart or is uploaded directly into the patient's electronic medical record.

This entire process may sound complex, but it's such a work of art. It may sound simple to some, but as I mentioned, the days of having to dress for work, commute to work, punch a time clock, and work at a cubicle are over. One of the luxuries I found most enjoyable was the fact that I didn't have to share a bathroom with co-workers or the general public.

When ever I needed to use the bathroom, I simply got up from my work station and used it. Stretched, got something to drink, and went back to work. Another benefit of working at home is that you can also conduct personal business if need be. If there is an important phone call that you have to take, you don't have to worry about others over hearing or feel anxious about taking a call at work.

You will be timed when you log into your work station and download a job. You can't just down load a job and let it sit on your desktop as to appear as if you're working. Your supervisor will know when you signed on, how many jobs you've typed, when you logged off for lunch, and so on. Remember, you will have a line count that has to be completed each week.

For part time employees, you may be required to have at the minimum 5000 lines per week. For full time, you will need 10,000 lines per week. This can't be done just by sitting and taking your time with transcribing. You will have to work and work diligently. Some think that when you work from home it's easier. No such thing, there is work in working at home. Do not let that frighten you. When first starting out, medical transcription can be very challenging. But, there are tools to help you become more productive. You won't believe how one simple tool can help you decrease your keystrokes, but increase your productivity. I will be talking about this in another article.


If you're interested in becoming a medical transcriptionist and would like more information about working at home or other non-clinical healthcare work-at-home options, visit [www.youtube.com/medicalhomecareer This page isn't available.] for more information. Be sure to check out the videos title Medical Transcription: Defined, and Medical Coding: Defined.

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