What is Medical Transcription?

Medical transcription is when a medical report is typed from a dictated audio file recorded by a physician, a nurse, or some other healthcare provider. 

Doctors, nurse practitioners, surgeons, and other healthcare providers have important, stressful jobs. They’re on their feet all day, doing everything they can to help the patients in their care. There’s a lot that can get in their way, however, and many frequently express frustration in getting so bogged down with paperwork that it limits their time with their patients.

The number one task that can suck up too much time from healthcare providers is transcribing their own notes.  These notes can include everything from clinical summaries to surgery notes.  Taking an audio recording and turning it into a written document that’s needed for their own records, insurance claims, and patient’s medical charts can take some providers a few hours per day.

What Is Medical Transcription? 

Many healthcare providers end up spending an hour or more at the end of every day transcribing their notes, or they hire an expensive in-office medical assistant to help, and still find that sometimes the records are taking too long to do.  They’re too expensive to do at this point, or there are inaccuracies showing up because they are using untrained people.

A medical transcription services company is the best solution here. You can outsource all necessary transcription work to an agency like ours here at Ditto Transcripts, where we have transcriptionists trained in creating and transcribing may different kinds of medical documents. Let’s take a look at what makes medical transcription different, and how it can benefit you, your practice, and your patients. 

Looking for medical transcription work? You can click here to see the details of what we do. Or learn how to become a medical transcriptionist here.

What Is Outsourcing Medical Transcription Like? 

When you hire us, all you need to do is send us your audio files and we’ll convert them into an accurate transcript that’s formatted exactly how you need it to be. Medical transcription services are specific, of course, to those in the healthcare profession. 

Many businesses are able to hire general transcriptionists to transcribe their audio files as well. This isn’t an option for healthcare providers. With specialized, esoteric industry language, more complicated formatting, and privacy concerns related to HIPPA or general security, it’s essential to work with specialized medical transcriptionists 

Providers sometimes use hand held digital recorders.  Which are voice recorders that save files after being recorded onto the device, because they’re fast, easy to use, and convenient. It allows them to speed up the process in the short-term, though it then takes up a massive amount of time when they have to transcribe the dictations later for themselves. 

With today’s technology, there are numerous electronic devices that are used to record audio files. These include digital handheld recorders, a number of different smartphone apps (including Voice Memos, which is installed by default on all Apple devices), or even a toll free call in voice server.  Check out our detailed guide on which transcription equipment is important.

what is medical transcription

The healthcare provider then dictates office visits, emergency room visits, diagnostic imaging (radiology) studies, op notes, chart reviews, discharge summaries, and more. They go over their findings, what happened during an appointment or procedure, and detail potential next steps. These dictations can be called in through a secure phone call or uploaded digitally to be shared through via encrypted email or secure HIPAA compliant apps with their transcription service provider. 

These clinical summaries and provider notes are obviously incredibly important, and it’s often essential that they’re transcribed into written text documents that can easily be saved, shared with other physicians, and reviewed quickly. 

It’s much faster for someone to glance at a clinical summary to assess a diagnosis or treatment options instead of listening to a three minute long audio file that could be corrupted overtime.

In many cases, these dictations are crucial for patient medical histories, insurance claims, and the immediate diagnosis and treatment process. This is true whether a single doctor is treating a relatively simple problem or if there’s an entire team working on a complex diagnosis. 

Cardiologists, pathologists, radiologists, and surgeons, and many more all coordinate to ensure that patient care is adequate and nothing is missed, and accurate patient medical charts are an important part of that.

Medical transcriptionists don’t simply transcribe audio files and hand over a big block of text. They’ll edit and properly format reports exactly how you need them to, then safely return them through your EHR or another secure digital format. Physicians can then review them and make or request updates if necessary. 

What About Voice to Text Software vs Medical Transcription? 

We’re all busy, and the whole world is trying to find new ways to automate every single task possible. Some tasks, however, work better when completed manually, and medical transcription is one of them.

Many electronic health record systems today do have built-in voice recognition and dictation storage options, and some even feature native transcription features. Automated transcription services, however, are the last thing that medical professionals need to be using.

While they’ll get the gist of the basic dictation, they can misunderstand any given phrase and transcribe it as something completely different. This results in inaccurate patient records, clinical summaries, and even surgical reports.  Which can put patients in danger, and the only way to catch it would be a careful manual review of the original text file while listening to the dictation and making the edits themselves.

No one has time for that, especially not extremely busy physicians and other medical providers. 

Medical providers

This is why hiring a medical transcription service is so important. They understand the high stakes at play here, and know that a simple mistake could put a patient in jeopardy or a doctor at risk for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If an inexperienced transcriptionist without the medical background could end up mixing up medication names, dosages, or even health conditions; imagine what a voice to text software could mix up or miss altogether.  

There’s a big difference, after all, between “hypothyroid” and “hyperthyroid.” Someone who isn’t familiar with the industry may not even know enough to recognize there’s a difference and seek out clarification.

Moreover, having trained, experienced workers listening to the audio files and transcribing them is a natural fail-safe. 

They often notice if something is wrong in the original dictation, because we’re all human and misspeak sometimes.  They can flag any potential errors in the files for the medical provider to review later when they are signing off on their reports. They end up acting as a virtual safety net, and we’ve even seen cases where our transcriptionists stepping in have helped to prevent potential allergic reactions to medications in a hospital setting to an outright misdiagnosis. 

Is This A Security or HIPAA Violation Risk to Outsource Medical Transcription? 

Once healthcare providers understand how medical transcription works, there’s typically one question that they’ll ask immediately: Is this a security or HIPAA violation risk? 

The answer is simple: As long as you’re choosing a trustworthy, reputable agency that specializes in medical transcription and follows several safety protocols, no, there is no risk involved. 

That being said, you must choose the right agency to guarantee protection for your patients and your practice. 

Medical transcriptionists are skilled in medical terminology, and that includes understanding and acting in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

medical machines

They understand the sensitive nature of the documents they’re transcribing, while only accepting and sending files on a secure network. We also  run criminal background checks on all of our employees and independent contractors.

Discretion and confidentiality is a must here at our agency, where we take all of the industry regulations including HIPAA and HITECH very seriously. 

Medical transcription can be done online through secure connections. You can also have one or some of our in-house team come to your office to transcribe the audio files without said files ever leaving the premises– digitally or otherwise. It all comes down to your preference and your comfort levels. 

Why Medical Transcription Is Cost Effective

Hiring medical transcriptionists can sound expensive. In reality hiring qualified agencies like ours is actually a much more cost effective solution than other options out there. 

Consider the different choices available to you:

  • The healthcare providers can either add on extra hours to their day every day to transcribe their own notes, which either costs them time off or costs them time they could be with their patients and making more money. 
  • You could hire medical assistants to transcribe the notes. This comes at a cost, however, as medical assistants typically require salaries ranging from $35,000+ per year and benefits that can be hugely expensive to employers. 
  • You can hire a transcriptionist part-time or full-time, though there’s a downside here, too. As the chart demonstrates below, hourly rates, benefits, and everything else that comes with traditional employees is incredibly expensive. 
Annual Transcription Cost Analysis

Hiring medical transcription company like ours, however, will get you highly trained and experienced medical transcriptionists with an average cost of $0.10- 0.14 per line. There are no contracts required, and we can produce much more (or more!) than a single in-house transcriptionist since we have a full team available to you.  Our accuracy rates are higher than most other agencies or in-house workers can offer as well. 

How to Choose a Medical Transcription Service 

There are plenty of transcription companies out there, and a large chunk offer medical transcription services. It can be difficult to know who to choose, though there a number of different qualities you should look for in any agency you hire. 

Rahul Varshneya, Cofounder of medical software development company Arkenea had great advice on the subject:

 “When choosing a transcription service for your facility, you should consider one that is compatible with your current electronic medical records (EMR) system if your practice has one. Many services offer EMR integration and free technical support so that transferring and filing patient records is easy.”

Ditto Transcripts, for example, will accept all types of audio files and even come work in your office. Not all agencies are so flexible; some may have systems that aren’t compatible with your EMR system and the files it produces. 

You’ll want to look for American-based companies who are HIPAA compliant. These agencies are working at the highest level of security possible and are going to go out of their way to make sure that all privacy, security, and HIPPA regulations are followed carefully. Look for agencies with legitimate American addresses, government registrations such as SAM, and that their business licenses are in good standing with whatever state they are registered within. We talk about this more here.

Keep in mind that while agencies outside of the country may offer slightly cheaper rates, they’re not only prone to higher rates of inaccuracies in transcription, they’re also much more likely to put you at a major security risk. Several years ago, a transcription company in India caused a huge data breach when medical files belonging to 32,000 US patients were indexed by Google (hacked), and that is far from the only case. 

The last thing to look for is some a clear process that the agency has in place to deliver the work well and on time. Most agencies will have processes that include submission of the file(s), transcription, quality assurance, report delivery and file storage. The agency should be able to define clear turn-around times (TAT), which often vary from 2, 4, 8, 12, 24, or 48 hours after submission in medical transcription services. Check to see if the agency offers STAT delivery times, which can assure rush delivery when needed (though often at a rate increase). 

Here’s a quick summary of what to look for:

  • American-based companies, with business licenses, addresses, and bank accounts
  • Government registrations and certifications if appropriate
  • Clear turn-around times available, and processes in place to guarantee accuracy and quality
  • Accepts whatever type of audio files your EMR produces 
  • HIPPA and HITECH compliant 
  • Experienced with specialized medical transcription services
  • High guarantees of accuracy 
  • Appropriate insurance policies such as general liability and cyber liability

Medical Transcription Services Specialty Areas

If you’re considering medical transcription services and are worried that you won’t find someone who has experience in your specific field, you can rest easy! We offer all of the following specialty services for transcription, and more: 

  • Adolescent and pediatric medicine
  • Allergy immunology
  • Anesthesiology reports
  • Cardiology reports
  • Cardiology transcription
  • Chart notes
  • Clinical notes
  • Clinical summary (ies)
  • Cytopathology reports
  • Dental report and transcription
  • Dermatology reports and transcription
  • Discharge summaries
  • Doctor Note Transcription
  • Electrophysiology Reports
  • Emergency Room
  • Endocrinology
  • ENT Reports
  • Family Practice transcription services
  • Geriatology transcription and reports
  • Group practice work
  • OB/GYN – Gynecological transcription
  • H & Ps
  • Hematology reports
  • Hepatology transcription service
  • Infectious disease reports
  • Internal medicine
  • Neurology transcription
  • Ophthalmology transcription
  • Oncology reports
  • Orthopedic transcription
  • Pathology transcription
  • Patient notes
  • Pediatric transcription
  • Podiatry transcription
  • Progress notes
  • Psychiatry transcription
  • Psychology transcription
  • Pulmonary transcription
  • Radiology transcription
  • Surgery notes transcription – pre op and post op

If you’re looking for something a little different and don’t see it on our list, you can get in contact with us here to learn more about what we can do for you. Or if you are interested in learning more about the best type of transcription jobs? Click here.


Medical transcription services are highly specialized, and our people are well trained and experienced. We can help you speed up your process, help more patients, and have stronger, more accurate records than ever before, and all at a lower cost than any of the other options out there.

Interested in seeing how our medical transcription services can help? There’s no risk to set up a no-obligation call, so get in touch and learn more about what we can do for you. 

Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based medical transcription company that provides fast, accurate and reliable medical transcription services for hospitals, clinics, facilities and individual practices of all sizes. Call 720.287.3710 today for a quote, and ask about our free five-day trail. Visit our medical transcription services page for more information.


  • American Health Information Management Association and Medical Transcription Industry Association, Joint Task Force on Standards Development, Transcription Turnaround Time for Common Document Types, Perspectives in Health Information Management, Summer 2008, on the Internet at http://www.ahdionline.org/Portals/0/downloads/TAT4CDT.pdf (visited June 03, 2011).
  • Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, AHDI Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) Exam, Credentials & Designations, on the Internet at http://www.ahdionline.org/EducationTraining/CredentialsDesignations/CertifiedMedicalTranscriptionist/tabid/159/Default.aspx (retrieved June 06, 2011).
  • Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, Credentialing Candidate Guide, 2010, Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, on the Internet at http://www.ahdionline.org/portals/0/downloads/CredentialingCandidateGuide.pdf (retrieved June 03, 2011).
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Medical Transcriptionists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos271.htm (visited June 02, 2011).
  • Dictation. App Store, iPhone Application Search Apple iPhone June 3, 2011
  • Dictation. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved June 03, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dictation
  • “Medical Transcription.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 April 2011. Web. 25 May 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_transcription#Outsourcing_of_medical_transcription
  • MT World, Introduction to Medical Transcription, Medical Transcription, Tuesday, June 7, 2011, on the Internet at http://www.mtworld.com/career/BecomeaMedTrans.html (retrieved June 07, 2011).
  • “Transcription (service).” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 18 February 2011. Web. 25 May 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcription_(service)

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