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History of Medical Transcription

Evolution of transcription dates back to the 1960s. The method was designed to assist in the manufacturing process. The first transcription that was developed in this process was MRP, which is the acronym for Manufacturing Resource Planning, in 1975. This was followed by another advanced version namely MRP2. But none of them yielded the benefit of medical transcription.

However, transcription equipment has changed from manual typewriters to electric typewriters to word processors to computers and from plastic disks and magnetic belts to cassettes and endless loops and digital recordings. Today, speech recognition (SR), also known as continuous speech recognition (CSR), is increasingly being used, with medical transcriptionists and or “editors” providing supplemental editorial services, although there are occasional instances where SR fully replaces the MT. Natural-language processing takes “automatic” transcription a step further, providing an interpretive function that speech recognition alone does not provide (although MTs do).

In the past, these medical reports consisted of very abbreviated handwritten notes that were added in the patient’s file for interpretation by the primary physician responsible for the treatment. Ultimately, this mess of handwritten notes and typed reports were consolidated into a single patient file and physically stored along with thousands of other patient records in a wall of filing cabinets in the medical records department. Whenever the need arose to review the records of a specific patient, the patient’s file would be retrieved from the filing cabinet and delivered to the requesting physician. To enhance this manual process, many medical record documents were produced in duplicate or triplicate by means of carbon copy.

In recent years, medical records have changed considerably. Although many physicians and hospitals still maintain paper records, there is a drive for electronic records. Filing cabinets are giving way to desktop computers connected to powerful servers, where patient records are processed and archived digitally. This digital format allows for immediate remote access by any physician who is authorized to review the patient information. Reports are stored electronically and printed selectively as the need arises. Many MTs now utilize personal computers with electronic references and use the Internet not only for web resources but also as a working platform. Technology has gotten so sophisticated that MT services and MT departments work closely with programmers and information systems (IS) staff to stream in voice and accomplish seamless data transfers through network interfaces. In fact, many healthcare providers today are enjoying the benefits of handheld PCs or personal data assistants (PDAs) and are now utilizing software on them for dictation.

The Future of Medical Transcription

The medical transcription industry will continue to undergo metamorphosis based on many contributing factors like advancement in technology, practice workflow, regulations etc. The evolution toward the electronic patient record demonstrates that, over time, documentation habits will change either through standards and regulations or through personal preferences. Until recently, there were few standards and regulations that MTs and their employers had to meet. First, we had the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It wasn’t long ago “experts” stated that HIPAA would not have any effect on the medical transcription industry. Either in a state of denial or ignorance of the law, many transcriptionists and companies have continued on their existing course of providing medical transcription. Many providers are concerned that the majority of the transcription industry will not be able to meet several specific requirements: namely, access controls, policies and procedures, and audits of access to the patient information. Without the knowledge or resources to comply, many in the industry are claiming to comply and signing their Business Associates Agreements without taking the security measures required. Many are uninformed, and some are choosing to remain so, believing that the world of transcription cannot possibly be expected to make these adaptations. The fact is that the employees will demand HIPAA compliance and will change employers and contractors when they don’t get it. There will also be demands to enhance patient safety, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. It is mandatory for service providers and healthcare practices to migrate to a HIPAA compliant environment.

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Medical Transcription
Medical transcription, also known as MT, is an allied health profession, which deals in the process of transcription, or converting voice-recorded reports as dictated by physicians and/or other healthcare professionals, into text format.