Friday, August 29, 2008

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.

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