Will voice recognition technology replace medical transcriptionists and ruin your career?
Is 2017 the year when speech recognition technology can replace medical transcriptionists? From Dragon to Nuance to M*Modal, every major company promises that their software is the one that will change the game forever.
So … just how good is voice recognition technology? And should you start looking for a new line of work?
Hang on. Don’t break out the celebratory champagne and dance on VRT’s grave just yet. The truth is that voice recognition is more accurate than ever.
But your job is far from being in jeopardy. A trained medical transcriptionist is more necessary than ever.
Let’s break down why.
13 Reasons Why Voice Recognition Technology (VRT) Can’t Replace Medical Transcriptionists:
1. Physicians are terrible dictators.
They eat, mumble, slur, talk too fast, and generally do anything else you can think of that causes their voice to be inaudible or unclear.
2. Foreign accents and speech patterns will always need a learning curve, no matter how small.
Yes, the technology adapts faster than ever to conversational models of speech. But there will always be someone whose accent requires at least a little while for the system to learn.
3. Punctuation matters.
When physicians rattle off their notes, how many actually stop to include every comma, period, apostrophe, and parentheses? Not many. It may not be an exciting part of the job but it’s essential.
4. Their/they’re/there. Too/two/to.
The world will always have homonyms, those happy little words that sound alike, are spelled differently, and completely change the meaning of a sentence if substituted for one another incorrectly.
5. The push and pull don’t make sense.
Separating out contradictory directions takes a trained and detailed oriented eye. The difference could be life or death.
“You’re in” and “urine” mean two different things though both sound the same. It’s far too easy for dictated words to run together in a giant pile-on of syllables.
7. Drug names are not interchangeable even when they sound like they are.
From generics and their brand name counterparts to carefully crafted marketing campaigns, many drug names have similar root words, prefixes, and suffixes. Stir all that together and out comes a big mishmash of confused notes.
8. Not all physicians are motivated.
No matter how sophisticated the software, it still requires a physician learn how to operate it. While it might only be a push of a button or a verbal command, the patience threshold for some is lower than for others. There will always be that one holdout who refuses to use the newfangled gizmo and instead prefers a real, honest-to-goodness person.
9. Background noise is a fact of life.
Unless your practice has soundproofed a section of the office (and we’d like to see that), background noises are inescapable. Even then, we all make non-verbal noises while we speak that must be edited out of any transcription.
10. Physician error.
Even physicians screw up. Can’t imagine that, right? But sometimes the wrong word, phrase, number, or term will be dictated when something else entirely was meant.
11. VRT error.
Even in optimal conditions, the VRT will output the wrong word roughly 2% of the time. It doesn’t seem like a lot but multiply that over millions of words across hundreds of thousands of facilities and-yeah, it adds up.
12. Numbers get wonky.
How many times have you transcribed or edited a document only to realize the test values or dosages were transposed? The human brain can only hold a handful of digits at any given time. Reading and speaking at the same time further complicates this ability. It’s all too easy to switch important numbers on a patient’s record. But … the results could be fatal.
13. Even the most motivated, articulate physician has a learning curve.
Hand anyone a new piece of software and they’re going to need some amount of time to figure it out. Now add the variable of the software figuring them out. VRT learns a physician’s voice and that takes time. While that’s happening, accuracy is lowered.
So what will happen to medical transcriptionists when VRT is implemented?
You’ve probably heard about the movement to make MT’s into super editors. Instead of spending all day listening, transcribing, rewinding, editing, and finally formatting, medical transcriptionists will be able to skip all but the last two of these steps.
Make friends with the VRT.
No, don’t take it out for cookies and milk. But embrace the idea that the less tedious work you have to do manually, the more you’re freed up to move your career to the next level.
As this article has made clear, the need for qualified medical transcriptionists is never going away. It’s merely transforming.
Physicians will never be eager to edit and format their own notes. That division of labor will always be cost effective for a medical transcriptionist to do instead.
Don’t worry about losing your job to some faceless, nameless computer. Your career is not only safe, but it’s going to get a lot easier, more efficient, and less tedious as technology improves.
Want to know more? Just ask us.
Tired of forms? Faxing? Ask us about that too.
This is 2017 after all. Not 1817. Life is too short to spend hunched over a pedal or pushing buttons on a fax machine.
We’d love to hear your ideas and even more reasons why MTs are here to stay. Leave them in the comments section below or find us on social media.
View One Voice Data’s current medical transcriptionist rates and the system requirements.