In the early days of medical transcription, most practitioners worked on site for healthcare facilities and were compensated on a traditional hourly or salaried basis. In the early 90s, the industry began transitioning toward incentive-based billing and compensation as a means of addressing critical shortage, documentation demands, and efficiency. Since that time, the standard set for MTs has shifted to a two-fold reality where accuracy and productivity are critically important to today’s facilities and employers.
While MTs are expected to be highly accurate, they are also expected to make an impact on documentation workload in any facility. There are still many facilities that compensate their MT employees by the hour, but even those facilities are adopting incentive programs to encourage both a higher degree of accuracy and output from their MTs.
Considering the prevailing reality of per-unit compensation (being paid by the line, character, etc.), MTs who hope to earn a comfortable wage in the industry have to be prepared for the productivity-geared environment of today’s marketplace.
What will that require of you as an MT as you enter the marketplace?
Nothing slows an MT down like having to stop and look something up. While no MT will ever reach the point of never having to stop to research, the well-educated MT who keeps up with the ever-changing world of clinical medicine and technology will be less frequently stumped by a new drug, a new procedure, or a new disease process. A well-grounded education through an AHDI-approved school, coupled with a comprehensive program of continuing education, will always be an MT’s most valuable productivity tool.
The MT who is willing to master all medical specialties, work types and technologies will be rewarded with the ability to be productive and earn a decent wage in any transcription environment.
An MT who is technologically savvy and up to date is an MT who is best prepared to produce in today’s environment. In addition to a working knowledge of computer hardware, today’s MT needs to know the ins and outs of his or her computer software, e.g. how to utilize the word processing systems in use today in order to attain maximum efficiency. The MT who is still stuck using a word processing system of the past will have trouble when expected to move to a 21st century system, such as Microsoft Word for Windows, Word Perfect for Windows, or a proprietary system that has been specifically developed for a national medical transcription service. In addition to general computer knowledge, an MT needs to know how to protect his or her computer system. Firewalls and spy ware detectors and virus protection should be part of an MT’s daily vocabulary and areas of expertise. Nothing can halt production like a computer system that has been struck down by the latest deadly computer virus. Last but not least, the productive MT needs to be willing to pay for and utilize the latest in Internet technology. A high-speed Internet connection is a critical to surviving in today’s world of shrinking turnaround times and expanding productivity expectations.
The latest edition of medical word books (either text-based or electronic) as general references (medical dictionary, updated drug book, a good lab book, an abbreviation book, medical equipment words, abbreviations, etc.) are your best bet for quickly finding a word you are not sure of.
There are many software programs on the market today designed to empower MTs to be more accurate and productive. An excellent MT will take advantage of these to maximize their skills in the workplace.
Internet Navigation Skills
Google and other Internet search engines have become an invaluable productivity tool for today’s MT. The ability to quickly and efficiently navigate the Internet to find reliable, credible information will be critical to productivity in the workplace.
Focus in the At-Home Environment
Many MTs are home-based. Yet working at home can be a productivity deterrent because of the inherent distractions encountered at home. The truly productive MT is the MT who is able to focus totally on the work at hand and get into the "zone" of maximum efficiency. It is impossible to enter and stay in this zone if you are constantly interrupted. Not only must you learn to treat your at-home job as if you were at work, you must educate those around you not to disturb you when you are working.
Adapted from the Teachers Lounge column in the January 2005 issue of Plexus by Pat Stettler, CMT, FAAMT