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Transcription – Dying, Surviving, or Thriving? – Part 1

“I work in the transcription industry.”  Standard, templated response when you enquire someone as to what they do for a living, and if they happen to be a transcriptionist.

Industry?  How so?  The word “industry” is defined as, economic activity dealing with processing of raw materials and manufacture of products in factories.

With rapid shrinking of job opportunities, erstwhile transcribers leaving for greener pastures, ever reducing pay scales, disappearing job security, and companies large and small shutting shop at an alarming pace, the phrase “transcription industry” seems no longer justified.

When we talk of transcription, medical transcription is what comes to most people’s minds instantaneously.  And justifiably so, because an overwhelming percentage of employment and business growth has for long been in the transcription of medical data.  About 9 of every 10 people one would encounter in the “transcription industry” used to be medical transcriptionists.  Now what has befallen this bellwether industry?

The field of healthcare has seen rapid technological advancements, innovations like voice recognition software, automation, AI, etc.  Companies that couldn’t adapt to these huge market disruptions have fallen by the wayside.  Companies that did adapt, have struggled and are somehow holding on, but there still seems to be a significant amount of catharsis.  Things are not so hunky-dory anymore for medical transcription.  Business owners as well as employees are not taking things for granted any longer as the risk of further disruptions is quite high.

Employees have had to train, teach and get educated with the latest techniques and tools.  Employers have had to deploy software, monitor market trends and align company goals, improve security systems, temper revenue expectations, and even let go some of their valued staff as automation and operating costs keep eating into their profit margins.

This has now become literally a struggle for survival!

Pay packets have frozen.  Hikes and emoluments have frozen.  Promotions have frozen.  Heck, even your current job and employer most probably might be in a state of deep freeze!  Barely any new medical transcription business opportunities.  If at all anything comes up, there’s still those razor-thin margins one has to contend with.  Cost of software, infrastructure, salaries, etc. going up and up constantly, but possibility of increased rates from clients is quite bleak and, in most cases, non-existent.  Client expectations on quality of medical transcripts and adherence to turnaround times are still sky high.

And adding fuel to fire is inflation and cost of living.  Year after year, these two factors keep increasing without fail, further adding to the burden of running a business, holding onto a job, and keeping folks at office and at home contended and happy.  Stress levels are high.  Frustration is high.  Despondency is super high.

Therefore, it is only but natural for staff and senior management alike to search for better avenues of income generation, though a constant search for greener pastures, but now aided and spurred on by desperation.  An obvious choice is non-medical transcription.  General transcription (GT) and Legal transcription (LT).

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