If you have been a part of the medical transcription industry for a reasonable amount of time, you must have heard numerous debates on the future of this profession.
There are those who believe that medical transcription is a dying industry. As digitization takes over our lives, can anyone be blamed for thinking this way? However, before you jump the gun and give medical transcription as a career option the cold shoulder, here’s some food for thought:
• The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects good job options for certified medical transcriptionists over the next few years.
• The employment of medical transcriptionists (MTs) is expected to grow by 11 percent through 2018.1
While the figure is not something that will make you jump for joy, it does reflect that the demand for MTs is not drying up.
The biggest reason, according to the Department of Labor, for this continued demand for health documentation professionals is the growth in the number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age. As more and more people in the country start turning grey, there will be significant increase in the healthcare procedures related to old age that require proper documentation.
So, the bottom line here is that medical transcription as an industry is not going anywhere, at least not in a hurry and not in the foreseeable future.
Challenges to Medical Transcription
That was the good news and now for some bad news. The truth of the matter is that medical transcription, as it stands today, does face some challenges and serious ones at that.
The entire healthcare industry is moving towards the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) environment. There is a school of thought that believes that with more and more healthcare businesses adopting this technology, the need for medical transcriptionist is going to nosedive.
With all due respect to the doomsayers, there was a similar hue and cry when the speech recognition software was first introduced. However, what this medical transcription software did was create a demand for medical transcription editors.
Medical Transcription Editing
Everyone knows that the speech recognition software is far from perfect and most doctors can’t be asked to put in the effort required to train it or the time needed to correct the flaws in the final product. The job, therefore, of reviewing and editing these documents that have a lot to be desired passes into the hands of MTs with advanced transcription skills that include editing and proof reading.
Similarly, even though the EMR system outwardly threatens to decrease the demand for medical transcriptionist, the optimists amongst us believe that the percentage of doctors who make a full transition to the EMR systems will be small, at least to begin with. They will still require medical transcriptionists to continue to serve as their eyes and ears and interface with the EMR system on their behalf.
So, what it may actually boil down to is MTs having to embrace the changing technology and add skills such as medical transcription editing that make them more efficient and productive. There is also hope that the EMR system may create support roles that flow naturally into the laps of medical transcriptionists who learn to keep pace with changing times.
Now it’s up to you which side of the fence you want to sit on. The side from where the future of the medical transcription industry seems bleak at best or the side where you see hurdles, but also the means to get past them!