Does anyone do medical transcription work from home?

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Rare Feathers Farm, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. I am about to go on (unpaid) maternity leave for the next 12-18 weeks....and I found out today that while I'm on this leave from work, I will have to come up with my insurance premiums or I'll lose my insurance. [​IMG]

    So I need to find a way to make $500 or so a month...and my egg sales won't be enough. [​IMG]

    I saw another thread where someone mentioned this....but I wanted to see if anyone else had experience doing this?

  2. Saltysteele

    Saltysteele Songster

    Apr 10, 2011
    Edited to add: please don't take this wrong, this is not to insult your, or anyone else's, intelligence in any way that might be thinking of trying this.

    i did it for 5-1/2 years.

    what do you do now?

    medical transcription is not just something you start doing one day, is why i ask. even if you were in the healthcare field, this is not something you could just start doing.

    the next problem, is it is hard to find a job doing it. everyone wants someone with 2 years or more experience. how do you get that experience, if no one will hire you to get it? and, they're not just going to hire anyone that says "i want to do this." medical terminology is another language. you may know what a word means, but to hear someone say it, or to hear someone say it with an accent and recognize it is another story. learn some common, simple spanish phrases and try to "hear" them when some spanish-speaking folks are talking. knowing what a word is and recognizing it when spoken, AND knowing when it is wrong based on context (just because someone dictates something you know is wrong, doesn't mean you should transcribe it) are two totally different things. you almost have to know what the dictator is saying before they say it. and in actuality, that is what it comes down to. after a while of doing work for the same people you can build up shortcuts. you could have a shortcut that when "perar" it types out "pupils equal, round and reactive." sometimes you'll luck out with providers that say mostly the same thing every time, unless something is wrong. you could have an entire shortcut that gets filled in for some providers.

    once you do find a job, you won't just start raking in the dough. as stated before, it takes time and experience to "hear" what they're saying, and hear what they're saying while typing what they said just before what they're saying now. try this: watch the news, transcribing as much as you can of what they say. now, try transcribing as much as you can of what they say with perfect spelling, punctuation and fixing grammatical errors without changing the context of what they're saying, just enough. this isn't a truly fair test, as when doing transcription you have a foot pedal that will reverse a few seconds (or more if you program it to) every time you let off, and you're able to keep stopping and rewinding to hear things over and over. how are you going to make money if you're constantly doing that, though. you're getting paid by the line. that means no proofreading. it takes time to be able to type what you hear the first time you hear it, and not have to go back at the end to make sure you transcribed it correctly.

    i had been transcribing for a year and a half, and was making 12.5 cents a line, which came to roughly 1000 bucks every 2 weeks. the gal i worked for had an account that went to T-sheets in the ER and clinics, wiping out most of her work. i was laid off, and only she and her 2 daughters remained on staff. anyway, i found another job (thankfully i had made contacts with salespeople of other companies) a month later. it took me a month and a half to get back to making a grand every 2 weeks! every doctor says something different, and every doctor says things differently. you need to know every muscle, joint, ligament, organ, vessel - everything - of the body, or you will spend more time on the internet researching than you can afford.

    there isn't just medical transcription, either. there are many different types. there are emergency room transcriptions, orthopedic transcriptions, surgical transcriptions, and on and on. if/when you start out, they won't just throw you to the wolves and into ortho's or surgicals, you'll probably start out with ER's. i just mention the different types, because you could be the best ER transcriptionist in the whole world, but feel like a newbie when starting surgicals (tons, tons, tons more technical).

    by the end of my transcription stint, i was doing quality work (not the status of my work, but meaning i was reading others reports and proofreading, filling in holes they couldn't get, etc., before sending the report back to the hospital). there is a lot of work and time that goes into transcription before it becomes worthwhile doing. i was without a well-paying job at the time, and kind of fell into it, thanks to my wife (i say this in a good way). still, 26K a year is not "go out and buy a Cadillac pay," either. so, i moved on to what i'm doing now. it served me well, allowed me to work from home and keep my daughter out of day care for the first year and a half of her life, but i don't think people understand the amount of time and work that goes into it.

    you may transcribe 8 hours a day and make pretty good pay. first of all, do you know what typing for 8 hours feels like? an eternity. not to mention, you don't just start the day by typing 4 hours, stop for lunch, then type another 4 hours. there isn't just 8 hours of work always there, ready to type. at the first place, i had my own clinic that everything that came in was mine. the second company i worked for, before i was qc, i was one of 15-20 transcriptionists trying to make a living. quite often, everything would be caught up by 10 a.m., and everyone just waited for work to fall into your que. ours held 2 dictations, so it's not like i could leave for an hour, come back and have another couple hours worth of work to do. you literally sit there all day waiting for work to come in sometimes. with larger companies, especially. i would literally wake up at 6:30 to be on the computer by 7 a.m., and would worship my computer until 11:30 at night, 6 days a week, to make 26K a year.

    more and more hospitals and clinics are utilizing oversea transcription, also. our company had two different cost levels (to put it simply) for our clients to chose from. they could pay to have the dictations transcribed by people in india, or they could pay more to have them typed by americans. part of my qc duties were to proof oversea transcriptions that came back. my gosh, they do a horrible job, but between them and us fixing their stuff, it was cheaper for the hospitals.

    anyway, more and more companies are utilizing overseas transcriptions and voice recognition systems, making actual human american transcriptionists obsolete. so, you've got a lot of competition for a job right now.

    i haven't done transcription in over 4 years now, and i embrace typos and grammar errors [​IMG] it is such a free feeling to not have to be 100% accurate (your job depends on at least 94% accuracy) all the time in transcription. now, i just type to type, albeit much faster than anyone else i know [​IMG]

    i hate to be a downer, but having done that job for a while, i can say unless you have training in it, your likelihood of even getting a job are VERY nill. i just happened to luck out. my wife had taken the course, and i just did it along with her for s**ts and giggles. she got a job in medical records, so never utilized it. however, because of her job, she knew the gal who owned the transcription company, and she was in a lurch and was looking for ANYONE who knew anything about transcription.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  3. ChooksinChoppers

    ChooksinChoppers Songster

    Mar 24, 2011
    Ocala, Florida.
    Oh I believe that saltysteel! When I was at my Dr's last he was recording my case as he went...and he spoke so fast I could hardly understand what he was saying! He is a heart specialist.
  4. justuschickens59

    justuschickens59 VA Royal Blues

    Apr 2, 2009
    I just wanted to say that I agree with what SaltySteele said. I've been a MT for 6+ years. MT is definitely not a job that you can just decide, out of the blue, that you want to do for a few weeks to make some extra money and then just sit down and do it. Most of us have actually gone to school to be trained to do this job. Even then, it is still a cold slap of reality when you actually start your first job. It's a hard, hard job. You can make good money, but you are paid by production - if you aren't typing - you aren't getting paid.

    I just have to laugh when people say to me "oh, you're so lucky to be able to stay home all day and just type what doctor's say." HAH !! How I wish that were true !! Even if it WERE as easy as just "typing what the doctor says," since 98% of my dictators are ESL, even knowing what they are saying is a huge challenge.

    You have to know anatomy inside and out. You HAVE to know whether the doctor means "ilium" or "ileum" by the context of the sentence. Or whether he means "dysphagia" or "dysphasia." There are a LOT of medical words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have entirely different meanings. You have to know which is the correct term by the context of the dictation. You also have to know anatomy so when a doctor dictates something incorrectly you will know it is incorrect and can flag it. You have to know all the medical suffixes and prefixes, and there are many. You need to know medical abbreviations - example, the doc dictates BPH in the diagnosis (no abbreviations in diagnoses) - does he mean benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic hypertrophy. You have to know this. Then you need to know things like where in a report can you use an abbreviation, where you have to expand an abbreviation - there are a lot of things like this that are and are not allowed in a legal medical document. You also have to know drugs, their dosages, and if the drugs are dispensed in mg, mEq, units, or mcg. There are a gazillion medical terms that you have to learn and, YES, you actually do have to know them because you will use them. There are also a blue million surgical instruments like clamps, forceps, sutures, needles, hooks, scissors, etc. that you have to know. And don't forget labs - you have to know labs. You have to know what is a normal value for a particular lab so you will be able to flag if it is wrong. Example, if a doctor dictates HGB (hemoglobin) as 153, you need to know that this is probably an error. A normal HGB is between 12-16.5 (depending if the patient is male or female). If a doctor dictates a NA (sodium) of 2.3, this is probably an error as a normal NA is 135-147. You have to know this stuff so you can flag it for the doctor's review.

    Added to all the medical stuff you have to know, your grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. has to be near perfect. Most companies that I know hold their transcriptionists to at least 98% accuracy. Twice a year my reports are sent to QA for review. If I don't meet 98% accuracy, I would be put on probation. If, at the end of that probation, my accuracy is still below 98%, I would be let go. Oh, and those reports are pulled and sent randomly; no prior notice so that I can take extra time to make sure those particular reports are perfect.

    MT is a very hard, demanding job. It is mentally exhausting and it is also physically demanding - it's hard sitting in a chair and typing for 8 hours. You pretty much have to sit in one position because you have to have one foot on the foot pedal at all times and, of course, your hands are on the keyboard typing.

    Oops - sorry - didn't mean to write a novel, just wanted to agree with Salty.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011

  5. Saltysteele

    Saltysteele Songster

    Apr 10, 2011

    when i would start a new job type i would spend more time looking up new terminology, than typing. and drugs.... there are so many drugs, almost all with different dosages or strengths, and you need to recognize when a wrong dosage is dictated (ultimately if the doc dictates it wrong, it's on their head, but you are expected to recognize it and flag it)

    i look back on it with fond memories and am proud of doing it, because it was a VERY challenging job, but satisfaction of a job well done is even greater. however, while i was working at home, i was actually able to do MORE stuff at home when i was working away from home [​IMG]

    don't let us disuade you from doing it, if that is what you want to do. just be aware that it is not as easy as the "make $1K a week working from home" commercials make it seem. [​IMG]
  6. hannakat

    hannakat Songster

    Jun 5, 2010
    Beaver County, PA
  7. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Well here I am with my 2 cents because… drumroll please.... I've been a medical transcriptionist for 27+ years.

    Many people are misled into believing anyone can do it. You have to be trained and go to school for about a year, sometime 2, depending on the program. Then, before you have the experience to work on your own from home, you have to be mentored "in person" by having a real transcription job outside the home, and you really won't have enough experience to be on your own until at least a year or two on the job.

    Twenty years ago, this was THE industry to go into. Today, it's one of the worst industries to enter. The pay is decreasing/dwindling, the jobs are fewer and farther between, and even with 27+ years of experience, I've had 4 transcription jobs in the last 12 months. Even though I do the same thing for a living, I was making $29 an hour doing it 3 years ago… right now, I'm getting paid by the line, working myself into the ground, and making about $1000 a month take-home pay. I used to take home $1800 every 2 weeks when I worked at Kaiser, but those days are long gone. Doctors are typing a lot of their own notes now, and a lot of transcription work is basically voice recognition editing for which you have to work your a$$ off to get minimum wage (I have a second job doing voice recognition transcription, and if I put my nose to the grindstone and don't even breathe, I will make an average of $9-10 an hour… and that's with 27 years of experience and a 110+ wpm typing speed).

    I have specialized in everything from radiology transcription to general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, and everything in between.

    It's a vanishing field and not something I would recommend to anybody.

    The other MTs here are right on the money in that you spend a great deal of time looking up information, especially when you're new to a job, service, or facility. We just got a new facility, and I'm trying to get the doctors' dictation styles figured out still. It is really time-consuming.

    I know someone who was an RN and decided she didn't want to deal with patients anymore and thought she'd just switch over to transcription, easy as pie. Even with 24 years as an RN under her belt, she couldn't do the transcription without taking a class. She went to school for 6 months and finally entered transcription.

    If you are looking for a quick income, unless you are already a trained and seasoned transcriptionist, it's not a viable option for you.

    I wish you luck and hope you find something you'll enjoy and where you can make enough money to pay your insurance premiums. Transcription ain't gonna be it, though… I don't mean to rain on your parade, but take it from the voice of LOTS of experience… you can't just dive into it without a relatively significant amount of training and experience.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011

  8. arabianequine

    arabianequine Crowing

    Apr 4, 2010
    I believe in you Rare Feathers Farm! If there is a will there is a way...don't forget that. It might not be easy though [​IMG]

    I say do what you think will work for you and give it a try it can't hurt.

    Good Luck!
  9. Thanks guys.....

    I just found out my mom has a brain tumor....plans have changed...

  10. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    I have a friend that does it and she makes a fortune. HOWEVER, she is well known in the medical community and did medical transcription for two other companies for years. It is not something you can just pick up over night. Google the book for ICD-9 codes and you will see what I mean. The CPT codes book is even bigger. Each procedure or office visit or referral has an ICD-9 and a CPT code associated with it.

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