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5 Fun Facts About Medical Transcription

SyberScribe AUTHOR: SyberScribe, April 18th, 2018


Some people may not realise the importance of medical transcription and how much is needed nowadays. It’s probably because it sounds like an old practice (it is) that shouldn’t be required in the age of smartphones, video chats and high-tech recordings. Well, that couldn’t be further away from the truth – if anything, it’s in part due to these sophisticated technologies that transcription is still such a relevant profession – especially for practices and businesses with an online presence. Additionally, the job of transcription itself can be a very demanding one, with lots of interesting elements and facts to be considered.

1. It’s not an easy job

A huge misconception is that transcribing words that you hear is easy. It’s not easy. Did you know that, on average, we speak at a rate of 150 to 170 words per minute? (And that’s according to the American National Center for Voice and Speech. Aussies could add a couple of more words to that figure, given we abbreviate everything, right? This figure means we say around 10,000 words per hour. Additionally, we speak 4 times faster than we type, and 7 times faster than we write. So no, transcription is not an easy job.

2. It can take a while to transcribe a recording

Considering a professional transcriptionist should type between 80 to 100 words per minute, a 1-hour recorded interview would take around 4 to 6 hours to fully transcribe (and let’s not forget that every utterance, interjection, side comment, time coding, or unfamiliar medical jargon has to be included). That’s equivalent to 2.35 minutes of transcription for every minute of speaking in the original audio file. In addition, a focus group interview, with multiple participants, can take up to 8 to 15 hours to be transcribed.

Let’s look at this from another angle: in the English language, each word has an average of 4.5 characters in it. This means that a slow speaker (150 words per minute) produces around 675 characters per minute. So transcribers are bombarded with about 675 characters per minute (plus the additional 170 characters of punctuation). This equals around 825 characters per minute that have to be written – that’s a lot!

3. Transcriptionist transcribe… anything!

While medical transcriptionists specialise in the medical field and transcribe medical reports, assessments, or referrals, medical transcriptionists can transcribe almost anything, and for many different disciplines. Some of the most commonly transcribed items aside from the medical field include podcasts, videos, films, webinars, interviews, disciplinary and court hearings, conference speeches, lectures, and more.

4. Transcription is important for accessibility purposes

Transcription is all about accessibility and making information easily available. For example, recordings of business, academic or scientific material can be quickly published and distributed to interested parties when the audiovisual material has been transcribed.

For legal and court hearings, transcribers record all technical details, proceedings, evidence evaluation and other important details during the case. For market research and focus groups, transcription is also crucial – otherwise, the research project could be less successful. Organisation conferences as well as press conferences need professional transcription services to ensure that every spoken word is captured and recorded. For journalists, transcriptions act as proof of announcements or commitments.

When it comes to film, TV and video content, transcription is also needed for accessibility purposes. Video content with closed captioning is far more user-friendly for many people, such as the hard of hearing, people whose first language is not English, and even a person who can’t find their headphones and wants to listen to the video on the train. Captioning can also help language students, and people who are learning a second language.

A good amount of successful YouTubers that produce content always caption their videos – they know many of their subscribers are from non-English speaking countries. This allows them to better connect with their audience.

5. Transcription is crucial for successful online marketing

Successful online marketing is tied to quality content – and while that can come in the form of audiovisual material as well as written, Google loves words! When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes, video transcription featuring relevant keywords is essential for a more successful strategy and to drive more traffic to your website.

Transcribing audiovisual material can also lead to more content for your medical practice’s blog posts, newsletters, social media strategies, or even downloadable content in the form of brochures, white papers, PDFs, or e-books. Whatever way you decide to repurpose the content of an online video, it’s a great way to connect with your audience, and in the process, being more SEO-friendly.

Using transcription for your medical practice

Transcription is essentially writing every word that’s said during a conference, an interview, a focus group meeting, a video, a court hearing, a film, a webinar, etc. It’s a very demanding job and it can take a while to get it done – but using transcription services be great for your medical practice, in both accessibility terms and as part of a successful marketing strategy.