Business OverviewMedical transcription is a field that's in major demand--and becoming more so all the time. Since health insurance companies often require transcripts of medical procedures before they'll pay for them, doctors need somebody to translate their dictated reports into professional-looking documents. And that could be you. If you like the fascination of the medical field and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with turning out a professional product that's badly needed, then this might be the business for you. As a medical transcriptionist, you'll sit at your computer, earphones on your head, jamming to the sounds of surgeons detailing operations (or other medical professionals giving a play-by-play of other procedures), then send the completed reports by modem back to the doctor or hospital. The great thing about this is that you don't have to leave home--you can receive dictation over the phone and send it back via e-mail. (Of course, there are also lots of jobs using the traditional dictaphone, too.) Time is of the essence in this field. If you can offer a 24-hour--or less-than-24-hour--turnaround, work second- and third-shift hours and occasionally put in weekends or all-nighters, then you'll be an all-star. You must have a strong knowledge of medical terminology and excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation skills. The ability to interpret sometimes garbled dictation from doctors with a variety of accents, dialects and speech patterns is also important. You'll also need the self-discipline to sit at your keyboard uninterrupted for long hours and remain focused.
The MarketYour clients can be doctors, hospitals (including medical records departments, information offices, radiology and pathology departments and emergency rooms), other health-care providers like clinics and psychologists, and attorneys working disability or malpractice cases. Send sales letters to these prospects, then follow up with a phone call. You can also place ads in local medical professional publications and call transcriptionists to ask for overload work or referrals.
Needed EquipmentYou'll need a computer system with a laser printer (you'll sometimes print your reports), a fax machine, a dedicated phone line, a dictaphone, word-processing software and special medical transcription software. You'll want a library of reference books, including a medical transcription style guide, a medical dictionary, drug reference books and various medical-terminology guides.