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How to Work at Home as a Medical Transcriptionist

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Skilled at-home medical transcriptionists need intermediate computer skills, fast and accurate typing speeds, and an excellent command of the English language to position themselves for a successful work-from-home business. According to the Association for Healthcare Data Integrity, qualified medical transcriptionists are needed to keep up with the large amount of medical dictation being produced. At-home MTs are often independent contractors or subcontractors.

Transcription Skill Set

Medical transcription work requires a three major skills. First, intermediate computer skills allow you to easily navigate the keyboard and Internet. You'll need to download and use specialty transcription software and client files.

Fast, accurate typing speed is also necessary. Accomplished medical transcriptionists often type 70 words per minute (or more). To increase your speed, take a keyboarding class or practice with a typing-tutor program.

Finally, ensure that you have an excellent command of the English language. Your finished product must demonstrate impeccable sentence structure, grammar and punctuation.

Essential Transcription Equipment

You can increase your efficiency with quality word-processing software. Regardless of each program's specifics, you should be able to streamline your work via automation and text manipulation features. Macros, or mini-programs that enable you to perform repetitive actions with few keystrokes, can also be time-saving tools.

Each client's dictation method determines the equipment you need. If a client transmits work with a dictation tape, you'll need a transcribing machine that plays back those audio tapes while you type the content. You'll need a different transcribing machine depending on the size of the tape.

Other clients dictate reports via MP3 downloads or digital voice recordings. Desktop or microphone dictation programs are another option. Regardless of your choice of dictation equipment, a foot pedal controls the speed and functions of the dictation, leaving your hands free for typing.

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Preparation Is Important

If you attempt medical transcription work without proper training, you won't produce quality work. Navigating the program will likely be difficult; and you'll miss the nuances that enable you to efficiently create quality transcriptions.

You must know medical terminology. If you can't discern the difference between medical term prefixes and suffixes, you might produce a document that reflects an altered diagnosis or treatment plan, which puts your clients at risk.

Complete a one-year certificate-level course or a two-year associate's degree program for basic competency. These programs provide education on medical terminology, anatomy, risk management and health-care documentation legal concerns. Also get supervised on-the-job experience. Community colleges, vocational schools and online learning institutions often provide programs with practical job experience.

Maximize Your Productivity

To meet your clients' turnaround times, and encourage repeat business, you must arrange your schedule and work habits accordingly.

Ideally, work in a quiet office separate from the household hubbub. Post your work hours on the door, and discourage family members from interrupting you. Your ability to concentrate will affect your productivity and accuracy.

To minimize delays, familiarize yourself with multiple word processing and dictation programs and equipment. Back up your work daily, and use anti-virus and other protective programs to minimize operational disruptions.

Estimating Your Income

Your medical transcription income is influenced by certain factors. First, fast, accurate typing speed enables you to complete work quickly. If you use productivity enhancements, such as templates and macros, you'll shave off additional time.

Finally, you'll likely be paid by the character line, generally 65 characters. If you complete more character lines, you'll earn a higher income. Your entry-level income should fall into the $12/hour to $14/hour range, according to MT at Home. As you become more proficient, your income should increase accordingly.

2016 Salary Information for Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists earned a median annual salary of $35,720 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical transcriptionists earned a 25th percentile salary of $28,660, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $43,700, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 57,400 people were employed in the U.S. as medical transcriptionists.

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

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