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By Mary Morken
Independent Medical Transcriptionist
and Webmonitor, MT Daily

This article was published in July 1996 in "Advance For Health Information Professionals"


"What do Medical Transcriptionists Want?" I was asked this recently by a frustrated supervisor of remote MTs. Several of us who receive our work through large MT services compiled our ideas by E-mail. We came up with a wide assortment of ideas -- a wish list containing everything from profound principles to smaller items that create a working climate that fosters our best production.

We didn't agree on all of these, and some of these would only apply to employees, others to independent contractors and statutory employees. Some ideas may not be possible for some companies. Some ideas are in raw form, but perhaps they will lead to better ideas and help forge even stronger teams of home-based MTs throughout the country.

Just imagine medical transcription supervisors:

--Referring to us as transcriptionists, not transcribers.

--Providing specific information on company policies and history.

--Communicating efficiently daily by e-mail, private forum, phone or voice mail, with "state-of-the-work" reports that help us feel a part of the team, yet shielded from management stresses. Giving any specific assignments, with encouragement.

--Responding in a timely fashion to voice-mail or E-mail messages.

--Providing information on office personnel, their titles and how to reach them.

--Making technical support available 24 hours per day for system uploads and downloads, and when new technical systems are instituted.

--Providing opportunities for those working on the same account to find each other so they can communicate for mutual support.

--Except for emergencies, phoning us regarding work during specified hours.

--Supporting online networking for research and communications.

--Allowing us to be known publicly and online as receiving work from the company.

--Protecting us from direct contact with clients who have complaints.

--Considering our concerns about improper dictations, communicating those concerns to problem dictators.

--Providing a written contract, however basic, to protect both parties.

--Respecting independent contractor status, abiding by original contract and basing expectations on finished work product.

--Giving some entry-level opportunitites for a few new MTs who have had training.

--Respecting an IMT's right to do work for more than one account.

--Making clear rules about what is grounds for firing or violation of contract, and how warnings will be given.

--Distributing work fairly for all of us alike, protecting us from receiving only the most difficult dictation.

--Informing us if the service is hiring from outside the U.S.

--Being open about pay rates, applying fairly to all.

--Using clearly and easily measured units for calculating pay, such as specified lines, characters or minutes of dictation.

--Rewarding years of experience in pay rates.

--Providing funding for certification if required.

--Providing incentives for improved production and quality, such as merit raises, bonuses, "hardship" pay for difficult dictators and recognition for outstanding work.

--Compensating us for other work such as training new MTs, helping with technical problems, writing macros, reformating, proofreading, etc.

--If health insurance is not provided, locating information on group health insurance for independent MTs.

--Expressing appreciation for excellent work.

--Giving technical support for newly hired MTs who are setting up computer connections.

--Informing of new medical terms by newsletter, with information about company vision and growth.

--Creating style guide for general principles of MT for the company.

--Providing adequate information for individual hospital formats.

--Keeping physician and local name lists current.

--Correcting us courteously in a matter-of-fact manner, with positive feedback for good work.

--Occasionally spot-checking everyone's work, understanding errors are inevitable and excellence is always the goal, with persistence: "Keep up the good work!"

--Requiring honest dates of dictation and transcription on documents.

--Allowing an exception to the rule of not skipping jobs, for conscientious objection to typing elective abortions.

--Instituting new systems incrementally when possible, giving adequate preparation time for changes in equipment requirements.

--Encouraging the use of speed-typing software, fast spellcheckers, computer word lists, etc.

--Working with special needs in equipment for blind MTs or those with hand problems.

--Sharing the long-distance phone expense, either by providing 800 number or pay rate that takes this expense into account.

--Assigning each of us enough accounts to have plenty of steady work, but not such a great variety that the work is always unfamiliar.

--Being realistic with us about variations in quantity of work at different times.

--Setting up working schedule in advance, with clear instruction on how to give notice of emergency changes.

--When necessary, respectfully requesting us to do extra work over regular commitment.

--Asking us for reasonable turn-around times, clearly communicated.


6/96 from Mary Morken: Now maybe we could make a list of MT responsibilities to keep us from falling into the trap of complaining:

1. Dependability: Regular timely completion of accurate work.

2. Trustworthiness: Keeping our word for commitment to completion of work.

3. Honesty: Telling the truth in all aspects of work, and in relating to accounts or supervisors.

4. Resourcefulness: Finding answers for ourselves as much as possible, asking for help only when necessary.

5. Accountability: Cooperating with required working rules, then respectfully making suggestions for improvement.

6. Independence: Choosing our work situation freely, but keeping options open to move to a better work source.


6/96, from Janie Gilbert: In order to stay not only on top but in the game, is to maintain flexibility and to be well-versed in computer skills in addition to honing our little brains to their utmost perfection as far as medicalese. You can't sit still for long in this business any more, do you think? I don't know what I'd do without the Internet resources (countless times I've verified a medical term or learned more about a particular procedure or medication or...) and the wonderful help/support available on this sounding board. I'm a big cheerleader for the Internet for any MT I find who's not online. It has definitely changed my world -- I wouldn't be happily working for who I'm with now if it hadn't been for your help and your web page information available regarding national MT companies. Before I obtained Internet access, I didn't even know that one could do remote MT work for a big company!!! I thought my only options were local.

Article in Progress: Wish List: "The Best We Can Be"
Compiled by Mary Morken

1. Signing a contract in good faith, true to our word.
2. Learning a new account in earnest, noting every detail required.
3. Respecting the life-giving importance of the records we prepare, first to the patient.
4. Researching new information for every aspect of our work.
5. Completing work regularly and reliably.
6. Keeping consistent with promised schedule.
7. Using the best equipment available, with a backup system.
8. Obtaining technical support for continuous service.
9. Communicating with service appropriately and faithfully.
10. Respectfully holding service accountable for their part in the contract "partnership."
11. Acting as a self-employed person, taking responsibility.
12. Being flexible for busy and slow times.
13. Obtaining second and third accounts if necessary for stability.
14. Keeping records confidential.
15. Networking with other MTs for mutual benefit.
16. Mentoring at least one new MT at a time.