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October 2019

Editor’s Note: Back in the Day …
By Lee DeOrio
For The Record
Vol. 31 No. 9 P. 3

As a parent, I intended to impart my wisdom in a meaningful fashion. I vowed not to rely on lazy tropes such as “When I was your age, we walked to school—uphill—both ways.” Still, as everything from how we listen to music to how we communicate has advanced to a state that’s nearly unfathomable to someone who spent his teen years in the ’70s, it’s extremely difficult not to lean on past experiences to make a point about how things have changed.

Eight-track cassettes, hitchhiking, UHF television stations, payphones. To today’s generations, these are foreign items and concepts.

Albeit at a much slower pace, the HIM profession has not been immune to radical transformation. Perhaps nowhere else has this been more evident than in medical transcription. Gone are the days when medical transcriptionists (MTs) were in high demand and could earn a living wage. Now, most MTs either work for a vendor or have moved on to other roles.

In reaction to this, For The Record has cut back on the amount of space it dedicates to transcription issues. There’s not been much pushback on this development, but occasionally I’ll receive an e-mail from someone who brings up the lack of articles or expresses their enjoyment at seeing one.

It was the latter that led us to produce this month’s feature on in-house departments. In a sense, it’s a “back in the day” adventure for those with memories of stacked departments producing piles of documentation on a timely basis. There are caveats, however, as most of those remaining on board have tilted their methods and job responsibilities to better fit today’s environment.

When searching for the article’s subjects, I reached out to industry contacts who had spent many years entrenched in the transcription world. Their responses to my inquiry are worth noting.

“The former transcription folks here have moved into discharge analysis and data integrity/chart correction roles.”

“There are no [departments] I can think of. Most are using transcription services. The transcriptionists are cottage employees around the country.”

“You’re looking for a unicorn, aren’t you, LOL? I honestly don’t know of any hospitals with in-house transcription departments. I’m sure there must be a few still out there.”

“One of my friends … does not want to be identified because she believes they will become a target for the giant MT services to approach their administration to sell them cheap offshore transcription. Can't say I blame her.”

“Those who have either gone back to in-house MTs or kept them (are there any?) through the outsourcing blitz [have discovered] that finding good MTs has never been as difficult as it is now. The good ones are all retired or dead, and colleges no longer have MT programs.”

The MT success story is really in Canada, where they are very much still employed and alive and well in the working world within the Canadian borders. CanScribe, a large online MT school, is doing quite a good job in educating and training their next generation of MTs for the Canadian health care system.

So why in Canada and not the United States?