With the rise in both the popularity of voice recognition (VR) software as well as outsourcing of transcription work overseas, the professional forecast can seem a bit gloomy for the average work-from-home medical transcriptionist these days. As a veteran MT with eighteen years experience, I can tell you that I have, indeed, lost accounts to VR. I can only wonder if any of the clients I couldn't hold onto were lured by outsourcing. However, I would hardly conclude that the MT's days are numbered. In fact, I believe that with a little fine-tuning of one's personal and professional goals, today's transcriptionist can be just as busy and successful as ever.
Change Your Mindset
Anyone who works in an industry that is undergoing rapid change is likely to feel anxious. Many times this worry comes from having a scarcity mentality, thinking that there simply isn't enough work to go around. Common bothersome thoughts may include: the fear that one's job may become obsolete; concern that someone younger and less experienced may take one's job away; and not daring to raise one's fees when other options for clients might exist that appear more affordable to them.
These thoughts may lead an experienced transcriptionist to take on a client at a much lower rate than is reasonable given her level of skill. And all this stems from doubts about her value in the current marketplace. Well, I'm here to tell you that medical transcriptionists are still very much needed. The US Department of Labor estimated that 105,000 MTs were working in 2004. To some, that might appear to be a lot. But if you think about how many Americans have medical records,105,000 seems like a measly number of workers to be typing all those reports! I believe we don't have enough medical transcriptionists. So I suggest that MTs make a major switch in mindset from scarcity to plenty.
Persistence Pays Off
Because most transcription seems to be accessed through the platform of downloading audio files swiftly via the computer, it almost seems laughable that a doctor might still dictate into a tape recorder and that the MT would use a desktop transcriber as well as (gasp!)cassette tapes in order to carry out the work. Believe me, this scenario still plays out. And it is one of the more profitable accounts an MT can get, in fact. A physician who just "doesn't trust" what to him or her might be the new technology of voice recognition may very well feel more comfortable dictating reports the way he or she has always done.
I believe these are the best accounts to acquire and I happen to know that physicians do exist who dictate onto cassette tapes! Recently, the Medical Records department of a local hospital offered an excellent rate for transcription of their tapes, which were done as a back-up to the more sophisticated equipment they were using. Yes, jobs like this might include pick-up-and-delivery of the reports, but that is something that an MT can factor into the price as it is a service that few will offer.
My advice? Query the Medical Records department of regional hospitals as well as individual physicians and see if they are interested in your services. This is where it is essential to have a superbly-written sales letter as well as excellent people skills when you meet the department director or physician. Persistence will pay off when you dedicate yourself to landing these types of accounts.
A Goldmine of Transcription
Sometimes MTs seem to forget all about general transcription. GT, as it's called, definitely has its advantages. Every industry has its own lingo and terminology. However, in my opinion, nothing is as difficult to learn as medicalese. And while just about every medical report seems to be a stat report, folks who transcribe more general reports routinely ask for higher rates when the required turnaround deems that a job is a "rush." The relaxed turnaround seems to give the transcriptionist more room to breathe, and personally, I find this type of work to be less stressful.
I am saving the best news for last: with the popularity of teleseminars, Webinars and podcasts, it seems like just about everyone has some audio that needs to be transcribed. In the last six months I've had more requests to type general than medical audio. These clients just find me. But do you want to know where to get clients who are in a field that uses a lot of transcription? Coaching! That's right. Personal and business coaches do their fair share of teleseminars and each of these needs a transcript. And with coaching deemed one of the hottest professions of the next ten years, that's indeed good news for transcriptionists.