Sunday, August 31, 2008

Job Security for HMTs

GREATER NOIDA (UTTAR PRADESH) INDIA:  Following an advertisement for 397 sweeper posts by the district administration of Gautam Budh Nagar, 1,076 applications were received. Among the applicants are more than a dozen postgraduates and graduates. Those selected would get jobs as sweepers in the villages of Gautam Budh Nagar.

The administration believes the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission in December is a major factor in getting so many applications from overqualified candidates.

"We understand that job security must have driven these highly qualified people to apply for jobs as sweepers, but we conduct practical tests too and those who can sweep properly and don't shy away from cleaning even sewers would be selected," an official added.

"Currently the total salary of a sweeper is nearly Rs.5,500, but after implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, it would touch around Rs.10,000.

"Probably they thought it is better to work as a sweeper than to remain unemployed," an official added.

Most home-based medical transcribers are at least graduates and, then, have undertaken professional training in medical transcription, and have some years of in-house experience.  In place of the broom, they have invested more by setting up a computer system at home along with expensive softwares, broadband connection, and an inverter.  How many of them earn regularly Rs. 10,000/month?  Forget about job security, most of them are lucky to get their earning cheques at the end of the month without numerous followup calls with nail biting tension.  Most scamsters in North India look for HMTs from South India and vice versa with the intention to cheat as distance would be a major hurdle to cross to realize dues.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ahoy! Enemy Within

It was in the news that one-sixth of the world’s population of those living below the poverty line are in India.  Is this an achievement?  One-sixth of the world’s population is in India’s State of Uttar Pradesh.  Everybody knows that the only popular industry in the State of Uttar Pradesh is baby production. Baby production due to uncondomed sex as most do not earn more than a square meal or less to even think of purchasing packets of condoms.  Thank the Lord not for the daily bread but libidos.  Now exactly how many are below the poverty line in the State of Uttar Pradesh?  90%? 80%? Please ask the U.N. or is it the statisticians in GOI (government of India) not to give us algebraic variables.  Readers want the facts in plain Queen’s English.

Why should the politicians in the government of India care?  First, they are busy keeping their coalition partners happy by turning a blind eye to their doings.  Then, they are busy with money laundering to survive votes of confidence in the Lok Sabha.  Finally, it is time for re-elections, and the governments at the center and States, especially those run by opposition parties, are busy trying to outdo one another by pushing through populist vote catching government orders for a section of the people.

Should anybody in authority care for an inflation of 14% that is still rising?  Mind you, not at consumer price-index (that would be very embarrassing even for the statisticians in the Ministry of Planning) but at wholesale price-index.  Prices of essential commodities are steadily going beyond the reach of the common household.  In order to control inflation while the Reserve Bank of India is attempting to reduce money supply in the market by tightening bank credit, friends across the borders are running a mint in printing Indian currency and offering at low “profits” to the desperate Indian households.  Our mentioned friends across the border are also able to lend authenticity to their trade by exchange of currency through their friends in banks in India.  They have a lot of friends in the State Bank of India, which is the largest public sector (read government-owned) bank in India.  So what?  The government of India has with one stroke sorted out this matter by making a person liable for persecution for holding such currency even if it has come out of the ATM of their nationalized banks!  There …. A big opportunity for Chinese enterprisers to manufacture low-priced (do not ever attempt to repair) currency notes x-ray scanners for the common man.  Ever-ready to keep the Chinese happy (and forgetful of their favorite pastime of border intrusions), GOI will gladly import the same and subsidize them too.

For a long time I have not read the Unemployment and Underemployment News.  I am quite sure that here too the State of Uttar Pradesh must be winning hands down with the greatest population of Muslims whose only aim is to reduce the Hindus to minority by their baby boom policy via their legalized bigamy.  Sorry Hindus.  The law of India does not allow you to venture in that area.

The GOI is trying to upstage the opposition ruled States by waiving off the bank loans of the farmers.  Wow!  What a lottery for the farmers.  There are plenty of well off farmers who are trying to capitalize on this free-for-all Farmers’ National Lottery.  The amount involved is to the tune of about Rs. 75,000 crores (US$ 20 million).  Nothing stops the farmers to have their debts written off and then re-apply for another until next waiver.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, a former head of the Ministry of Planning, and an economist, etc. etc. is no politician.  But he too wants to be remembered after he moves out of the limelight.  Having survived the vote of confidence created by the Marxists pulling the plug of support to his party’s coalition, he is pushing his Nuclear energy dream riding in USA “Bushyback” attempting to cross the last hurdle of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.

Difficult to comprehend keyboarding speed

I recently saw the post of Indian Scribes ( in a MT forum in India wanting to shortlist Freelance Transcriptionists/Medical Transcriptionists who could understand and accurately transcribe audio recorded in US/UK/Australian accents.

Is it the arithmetic that I find difficult to comprehend or that there are such fantastic medical transcribers in this profession that makes me wonder.

Requirement 1: Typing speed of 70 wpm.
This implies 280 characters per minute assuming (on the safe side) that the words on an average comprise of 4 characters (though medical terms can be as long as 22 characters or more). At 65 characters per line with spaces, 70 wpm would imply four lines per minute. That also means 280 lines per hour.

Requirement 2: Ability to devote at least 10 hours per week to the job.
That implies two hours per day of five working days. Correct?

Requirement 3: Ability to meet a turnaround time of at least 1 audio hour per day.
That implies a minimum of 500 lines in a 60-minute audio. Correct?

In other words a person should be able to transcribe 250 lines per hour and that too with 98.5% accuracy. In my opinion, to maintain such accuracy standards, a MT doing long hand would not have time to check medical terminology words in the medical word finders or new drug names on the net. Medical terms, drug terms, surgical terms, etc. are not plain Queen’s everyday spoken English. To me it seems the speed of 70 wpm has been set after arithmetical calculations above. And if a medical transcriber needs to check references, then he should have a speed of 80 wpm or 90 wpm or ……..or better still run a speech to text editor running in the background as Express Scribe downloads files so that the medical transcriber only has to edit and, hence, can go through it at a fast speed.

If I had to apply I would first check if my pockets are deep enough to invest Rs 45k (US$ 1100) for Dragon Natural Speaking software professional version 9 with a medical dictionary.

Sorry. I have yet to earn 45k working from home for the last six months where firms initially agree to give you 50 minutes of dictations after familiarization with a set of physicians. However, as soon as their immediate requirements are met, not only forget the minimum quantum of dictations/day but most of the time start using vague excuses like “their being little work today,” “first we need to give sufficient work to in-house MTs who are drawing a fixed salary,” “please look elsewhere for now,” “if you could do direct upload work at 90 paisa/line (2 to 2.25 cents/line) then we could consider,” etc. Some may even buzz you after a couple of months to see if you could do the extra work that they had by mistake downloaded from a MTSO and if I could do it for them in the middle of the night. Having gotten it done there chat ID blip on my Yahoo! IM map goes dead again. Forget the payment. It was a favor until next time. I better stop as I am going off the subject matter.

I hope some forum members at MT Stars are reading the plight of an Indian MT and may, henceforth, be less critical of outsourcing to India that holds one-sixth of the world’s population of those living below the poverty line.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

HMT aur Whore main kya Difference?

A home based transcriber in India had been made to feel like a whore.  A whore is also human and would like to familiarize with a small set of clients rather than have one and all clients.  With a small set of clients, a whore can know them and understand their nuances better with each visit and, thereby, no how to perform better the next time they come calling.  If the whore gets infrequent clients who are only interested in voiding their libido and care not where they do it, you can never perform to get them to visit you again.

That is what happens with home based transcribers too.  There is no minimum guarantee of daily work (line count) or/and regular clients (dictators).  If the HBMTs join big accounts like hospitals, etc. both their line count and quality takes a hit!  Much of the time MT firms recruit HBTs for overflow work or quality of dictations being such that their regular office-based MTs take too much time on or find difficult to do or want the HBT to break into new difficult dictators.

Have a look at the statistics.  Work is available five days a week, Sunday and Monday no work, i.e. on an average for 24 days, excluding labor days, Independent Day, Valentine Day, and others, no work and no earnings.  Now if the HMT wants to earn Rs. 10,000 (just $250) per month and gets paid (say) 80 paisa (just 2 cents) per line of 65 characters with spaces then he needs to do 12,500 lines/month, 520 lines/day in 6 hours.  This is not a tall order as most MT firms expect 92%+ accuracy @80 paisa/line.  The query is how many HBTs really get work equivalent of 12500 lines per month to do?  How many of them get clean clear dictations and not whispering or Latin/Spanish accented dictators.  Imagine a Spanish accented dictator, dictating a surgery at 100-meter sprint with a bad English pronunciation, grammatical errors, abbreviations, and fill in the blank yourself sentences!

It is really not worth being a HBT in India at least.  You will not earn enough to repair and maintain your “assets” let aside have a healthy diet and medical attention as propounded in the dictations, not to say anything about other expenses of daily living.  Better join as full-time employees and earn at least a salary.