Top Ten Dictating Tips
Medical professionals around the world have a suite of dictating tips which are practised every day. This article lists the top ten tips for professional dictating, and how they can help improve the dictating experience for professionals.
Whether you are new to the skill of dictating or a seasoned professional, it’s worth knowing what professional dictating tips are considered best practice. By improving dictation practices professionals receive the best quality transcripts possible, eliminate the need for a final edit, and ultimately save precious and highly contested work time.
Tip #1: Only use audio devices designed specifically for dictating
Whether dictating into a dictaphone, using a microphone or headset, or dictating into voice recognition software, it is essential you use an audio device designed specifically for dictating.
Devices such as Olympus Dictaphones and Philips SpeechMikes are designed to produce high quality audio. Ensure you understand the settings of the device and position the device well.
Tip #2: Collect your thoughts and plan your dictations
What’s that old adage? Think before you speak. This is particularly apt for professional dictating. Collect your thoughts and plan your words before speaking. Gather together any papers or reports you need to reference during dictation and reduce rustling paper. Open up the relevant documents on your computer to minimise loud key strokes and avoid interruption to your thought processes. If you’re organised your dictations will be clear and coherent.
Tip #3: Dictate critical information
What is critical information? Critical information includes identifying yourself at the beginning of each dictation, stating the type and date of the dictation, critical patient details and identifiers, and, where applicable, which template you wish the transcriptionist to use.
Tip #4: Standardise your dictations
It’s helpful both to you as a dictator organising your thoughts, and the transcriptionist who is typing your transcripts, to use similar phrases in each of your report types. Being consistent across report types reduces the chance of errors in the transcript and reinforces the routine of dictating.
Tip #5: Dictate punctuation, phrasing and formatting
Each dictator has individual preferences for punctuation, formatting and phrasing. To ensure your specific preferences are met dictate punctuation and phrasing as you go. Include “full stop”, comma”, “new line”, and “new paragraph”, and pause slightly before and after small words such as “a” and “the” -these words are frequently lost or misrecognised.
If you find that you need to retract sentences or paragraphs, please clearly indicate this in the dictation. If instructions are not clear they can be misunderstood as needing to remain part of the dictation. If you are using a dictaphone please consider using the “overwrite” or “insert” functions, within the dictation.
Tip #6: Slow down!
Some dictators speak too quickly for even the most seasoned transcriptionist to capture all the words well. Remember that the average person speaks between 110 – 150 words per minute, and an experienced medical transcriptionist can type between 80 – 120 words per minute. There’s a discrepancy – so if you slow down, your transcriptionist is more likely to capture all your words the first time, and you also get to compose your words in a considered manner. Further, most professional medical transcription companies charge per line, not per minute of audio, so there’s no financial saving to be had by “racing” to the finish! It’s win, win!
Tip #7: Speak with clarity – and try to avoid eating and drinking while dictating
Dictators can avoid fade-out at the end of sentences by speaking clearly and naturally. Keep a natural tone and volume to your voice, and whatever you do, please don’t eat or drink while dictating. Dictating while still in theatre is not advised. The clatter of tools and equipment in the background severely impacts on good quality audio.
Tip #8: Speak in continuous phrases
Speaking in continuous phrases is particularly important when using voice recognition software, such as Dragon Professional or Dragon Medical Practice Edition. This approach provides contextual clues about what you dictate, helping the software (and the transcriptionist) choose the most appropriate word or punctuation. For example, context assists the software to distinguish between homonyms like “humeral” pertaining to the humerus bone, and “humoral” referring to a body fluid (such as a hormone), or “:” the punctuation mark, and “colon” the body part. Despite the best of intentions and context, there are still a few homonyms which cannot be easily distinguished. It is advisable to spell out “Hypo” and “Hyper”, to avoid incorrect usage.
Tip #9: Spell unfamiliar words
If you are engaging a professional medical transcription company to transcribe your dictations there’s no need to spell out medical jargon or terminology. The transcriptionists employed by reputable transcription companies such as Pacific Transcription have a wealth of experience and knowledge across all medical fields, and are very familiar with medical terminology.
However, there are groups of words which do benefit from being spelt out. It is beneficial to spell unfamiliar landmarks, remote areas and townships – particularly those which are named using Indigenous languages.
Where the transcription company does NOT have access to your patient database to verify patient details, it is also helpful to spell out patient names which have unusual or uncommon spelling. To the transcriber Rosemary, Rose Marie, and Rose Maree will all sound the same. It is also beneficial to dictate the patient’s full address, the clinic name and location, to avoid errors.
Tip #10: Remember to say “End of Dictation”
A simple but effective tip – by remembering to say “end of dictation” at the end of your dictation the transcriptionist knows there is no more dictation to follow.
For more information on professional dictating, medical transcription or to obtain professional transcription services, please contact Pacific Transcription.