Evolution Of Medical Transcription Into Scribing

Since the 20 th century maintaining medical records started to gain prominence for research purposes. Doctors scribbling on their notes were the first official form of medical records.This posed a big challenge for both review and reproduction of the notes since it was highly illegible with lot of abbreviations. Invention of typewriters came as a big relief for doctors and they began to use medical stenographers who took doctors’ dictations in shorthand and reproduced the notes on typewriters. It was hard to find stenographers who were well versed in medical terms and the quality of the notes began to suffer. Also doctors were finding it hard to care for patients and dictate to stenographers at the same time within the timeframe of their work schedule. Recording devices came to the rescue and with the use of audio cassettes the doctors were now able to record their dictations anytime anywhere and the typist would type the notes afterwards. New technologies in typewriters brought in new ammunitions for typists who now had more editing options. By this time, typists who were working for doctors came to be known as medical transcriptionists and it slowly evolved into a new profession.

More and more doctors wanted to use medical transcriptionists for their notes and there was a huge boom of the transcription industry in 1980s through 1990s. This boom was caused by the dawn of the computer age and the new recording devices like CDs and DVDs and invention of the World Wide Web. The downside of this boom was that hiring the typists was getting more costlier and the quality of the notes were going down. Since it was getting more and more difficult to find a good transcriptionist, and the ones who were really good were burdened with more work, there was too much of a delay in creating notes. Sometimes the notes would reach the doctor after three to four days or even after a week. By this time, the payment of the clinic visit charges also became highly dependent on the accuracy and promptness of the notes in reaching the insurance companies. Most of the visits were not getting paid just because of the lack of ability to produce notes in an accurate and timely manner and this was a big headache for the doctors.

During the 1990s, in English- speaking Asian countries like India, Philippines, etc., entrepreneurs started showing interest in looking at possibilities for providing medical transcription services to US doctors. Some of them grabbed the attention of some desperate US doctors and made a successful foray into bringing medical transcription industry to countries like India. India with its huge resource of graduates and high levels of unemployment, was looking for a big opportunity like this and many companies cropped up who trained graduates possessing good English knowledge and willingness to learn medical terms. Indians excelled in their training and in the 2000s there was a huge boom in India with even big corporate companies getting into medical transcription. The biggest advantages in outsourcing were less than half the cost, overnight delivery of notes, and excellent quality of notes. Between 2000 to 2014, it became a norm for most of the US doctors to hire some company from India or other to outsource their transcription work.

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