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Voice Recognition And Medical Transcription
 by: Mila Sidman

You’ve probably heard different opinions and views on this subject. If you’re a medical transcriptionist you may even be concerned about voice recognition taking over your career… and you’re not alone.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into voice recognition.

As you already know, doctors are busy people. This is never more obvious then when they’re dictating their notes. It’s understandable they’re busy, and as their MT, I can surely forgive them but will the latest voice recognition software be as forgiving as me?

Not likely.

As a transcriptionist you will have typed through background noise, patients moaning, doctors eating their lunch, personal conversations (oops they forgot the recorder was on) and other incomprehensible noise. Not to mention, ESL doctors with heavy accents and very tired ER doctors after a long shift!

At this time there is no voice recognition software which can handle this type of voice recognition. It is impossible for the software to determine actual speech from mistakes in conversation, background noise, heavy accents, etc.

So what does this mean for our future?

Rumors of MTs being out of r a job have been around long before I became an MT. Eight years later, there are still no real advances in this field.

Can voice recognition ever replace transcriptionists?

Sure it can.

If a doctor is willing to sit down and take the sufficient time to train his voice recognition software to recognize his voice and speech patterns (this takes time and is not done automatically), yes it is possible.

If the doctor thereafter dictates very clearly, using proper punctuation in his speech (stopping for periods, pausing for commas) without any background noise or interruptions. Yes, it is possible.

Will the document be 100% accurate?


Remember medical records have to be in compliance with a number of very strict regulations. Most doctors, will not trust voice recognition enough to send these records through without at least a quick glance through.

Even under the best dictating circumstances the report will still need to be proofread and edited. So, yes under the “perfect” circumstances, voice recognition can replace a transcriptionist.

Is it likely? Not unless every physician out there is willing to take the time, energy and ongoing effort to train their voice recognition software and maintain a certain standard of dictation.

I don’t see that happening any time soon. Doctors are busy people, remember? ;)

If anything, us MTs should embrace voice recognition and use it as a tool to help us in our MT careers. If applied properly, it can be a time-saving tool. So why not use it for our purposes?

As with any business to stay ahead of the game you have to adapt to change and technology. Learn how to use it to your advantage instead of being frightened by it. That’s the only way to stay ahead of the competition…. Voice recognition or otherwise.

About The Author

Mila Sidman is an experienced MT and owner of - an informative website dedicated to answering all your medical transcription questions.

This article was posted on February 06, 2006


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