What Is Transcription and How Does It Relate to Translation?

Global Communication Blog, Language Service Provider (LSP)

For physicians, medical researchers, nurses, and primary care providers, there’s no substitute for accurate medical documentation. As medical professionals treat patients, they need access to medical records they can trust to determine the best course of treatment moving forward. Medical transcription services and medical document translation services are both crucial for providing top-notch patient care.

Understanding the ins and outs of transcription services as well as how they relate to medical translations allows you to make smart business decisions for your global life sciences organization more quickly and with better outcomes. Let’s talk about transcription and how it relates to translation.

Transcription vs. Translation: What’s the Difference?

The difference between these two services is simple: a transcription is a written record of a statement or statements expressed verbally in their original form, while a translation is a written or spoken transformation of a statement or statements from one language into another.

Going beyond basic definitions, let’s look at a quick example to further illustrate this difference: Imagine we are magically transported to one of the battle scenes from the Game of Thrones. We see Khal Drogo (played by Jason Momoa) about to tear into another warrior with his bare hands. Someone in the crowd shouts: “Fichas Jahakes Moon!” You’re in shock, but still manage to grab your smartphone and leave a voicemail describing the blow-by-blow for your closest friend and GoT superfan. Your friend could then transcribe your spoken words by sending them in a text message to his mom: “Fichas Jahakes Moon!” Now if your friend’s mom wanted to pass along the message to her friend who doesn’t understand the fictional language, Dothraki, but only English, for example, she could translate the phrase writing: “Take his braid!”—which makes sense, since Dothrakis cut off their opponents’ braids after a victory.

Meanwhile, back in the real world…medical transcription services have been a staple in the life sciences industry almost from the beginning. Transcriptionists save physicians and other professionals time by writing out and editing verbal dictation for notes, medical charts, medical records, or communications with other medical professionals.

Meanwhile, back in the real world…medical transcription services have been a staple in the life sciences industry almost from the beginning. Transcriptionists save physicians and other professionals time by writing out and editing verbal dictation for notes, medical charts, medical records, or communications with other medical professionals.

Outside of the medical context, transcriptionists play an important role in situations like the following:

  • Market research – e.g., transcribing conversations with focus group participants or customer survey respondents
  • Interviews – e.g., creating a written record of a podcast, radio, or television interview
  • Group discussions – e.g., during an important board meeting, a transcriptionist may be called in to take notes and keep a written record of what was said and by whom
  • Court cases – e.g., a transcriptionist specially trained in legal transcription keeps a record of court proceedings
  • Legal transcription – e.g., during a legal mediation process, a transcriptionist may be present to ensure that both parties have a written record of any agreements or conclusions reached for their reference

At DTS Language Services, Inc., our professionals can transcribe anything with audio or video content. Suppose you have an audio recording of a three-day conference about a new type of medical device for continuous glucose monitoring. A transcriptionist at DTS could produce a written version of the recordings for your reference. These transcripts would also make it easier for you to discuss relevant information with other participants as well as those who did not attend the seminar.

While medical transcription has long been a staple in the life sciences industry, as many companies have become globally connected, medical document translation is becoming another staple service of the industry. Translators with subject matter expertise, transform written text from one language into another. So, if you wanted employees who only speak German also to benefit from the medical device conference transcripts, then someone from DTS’s German team could translate the transcripts from English.

In fact, specialists at DTS can translate from English into at least 100 different languages and vice versa. We offer a wide variety of languages to meet the needs of our clients. If you need medical document translation, clinical trial translation, medical device translation, and biotechnology translation, contact us and we will accommodate you.

Choose Your Transcription Company Carefully

Transcription is a crucial service supporting those charged with the task of medical research and patient care. Healthcare providers are required to keep diligent patient records and notes. Almost every moment of a patient’s interaction with the healthcare system must be documented by trained transcriptionists.

Here is a sampling of the work done by these professionals:

  • Follow-up notes transcription
  • Progress notes transcription
  • Consult notes transcription
  • Clinical notes transcription
  • Surgery notes transcription
  • Patient chart transcription
  • Radiology reports typing
  • Medical records transcription
  • Physician dictation transcription

To ensure secure data management and HIPAA compliance, life sciences companies have two good options for acquiring the best transcription services: hire an in-house transcriptionist or outsource the work to a medical transcription service provider. However, it can be difficult to find professional transcribers who are both qualified and able to handle the necessary volume of material on a regular basis.

Top Areas of Consideration

It’s not hard to come up with reasons why medical transcription is an essential component to keeping your organization humming along like a well-tuned engine. Besides prioritizing patient safety, global life sciences companies have profitability, legality, and regulatory concerns to bear in mind.

With all that’s at stake, it’s important to choose your transcription service provider with care. Here are the top areas to consider when it comes to human transcription services:

  • Accuracy is the Highest Priority: Doctors and other medical professionals treat many patients over the course of a single day or week. Accurate records allow them to reference previous treatment strategies and follow-up with the patient to prevent a relapse or treat any further complications swiftly.
  • Healthcare is Becoming Increasingly Collaborative: Even in smaller medical facilities, it’s rare for only one doctor or healthcare provider to focus on a single patient case. This means it’s critical to share patient data if we want to ensure proper patient care. Maintaining reliable records is especially important where multiple specialists are involved. Medical transcriptionists facilitate the flow of information between many different practitioners, researchers, and scientists, regardless of the size of the team.
  • Communication Matters: When doctors and specialists are not available to monitor patient care, the work falls to nurses and other support staff. Reliable and accurate medical record-keeping ensures that patient care is seamless throughout the course of the treatment regimen.
  • Consistency is Important for Insurance Purposes: When shopping for transcription services, you will want to ensure that your language partner understands the importance of consistency. Keeping consistent records for the purpose of billing insurance companies for the cost of care administered is a crucial responsibility. Without accurate and reliable records, there’s a good chance your facility won’t get paid.
  • HIPAA Compliance: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a hallmark of the modern healthcare system. When the act passed in 1996, it revolutionized medical record-keeping throughout the U.S., but it also required a significant overhaul of records departments and standardization of written communications. In addition to ensuring medical professionals can do their jobs to the best of their abilities, HIPAA-compliant records serve as the primary basis for legal arguments should complications occur or a lawsuit come about.


The Value of Using an Out-of-House Transcription Service

Regardless of the size or sophistication of your medical facility, if you’re not achieving 100% accuracy, you run the risk of serious legal trouble should an issue arise during treatment. Even during standard medical care or seemingly innocuous clinical trials, accepting less than perfect accuracy in medical records can potentially expose your entire organization to lawsuits. This can lead to further trouble endangering the future of the facility as well as the very medical licenses held by doctors, researchers, and others.

To provide medical transcription records, reports, insurance invoices, and other documentation, you need skilled medical transcriptionists specially qualified to meet industry standards. While it is possible to find and hire talented in-house transcriptionists, it is often difficult to find qualified medical transcriptionists and even harder to train them. This can be especially challenging for smaller clinics and private life sciences labs. Because even the smallest mistake can spell the end for any organization, you’ll need to carefully screen potential transcriptionists.

Fortunately, there’s another option here. With so many service-based providers, like DTS, poised to support life sciences companies, finding a qualified medical transcriptionist who understands the important issues raised above is easier than ever. For a fraction of what it would cost to hire a full-time employee (or several full-time employees), you can use a third-party to handle sensitive medical records and provide transcription online. A professional transcription company can be a key resource in the solution to the healthcare puzzle.

3 Big Questions to Ask

  1. What do your oversight procedures look like?
    The best transcription services will take a client’s voice recordings and create a professional transcript with a time stamp or document references if requested. Once you receive the written transcript, it’s important for your team to do a thorough review looking for any possible adjustments. Perhaps your organization prefers the term “patient” rather than “subject,” for example. This is the time to request such changes. If you choose to outsource transcription or translation services, it’s important for you to understand the process. Speaking generally, more oversight means better results.
  1. What specialty experience do your transcriptionists have?
    Depending on the types of documents you need transcribed, you may require transcriptionists with certain specialties. It’s important to ensure that the transcription company you contract with has experience serving your specialty. You can check references and ask a lot of questions about the processes in place to gain valuable insights. Also, be proactive and seek out references on your own. Ask around your network to find others who may have used the service.
  1. What method will we use for dictation?
    Once you’ve chosen a medical records transcription service to work with, your physicians and staff can begin dictating. It is important to know how you will do this because there are several possibilities. Some transcription services will provide you with a phone number to give your staff. This allows users to dial-in and dictate into the system where a transcriptionist then will access the recording and work on creating the written record.

    Other services ask clients to use an audio recorder to create audio files and digitally upload the files into the transcription service. This is the preferred way our users provide DTS with their files to be transcribed. Using the pre-recorded file, our transcriptionists transcribe into the same language as the one being spoken, into a different language from the one being spoken, or into both the same and another language depending on a client’s needs. Overall, transcription companies tend to be flexible when it comes to the method being used to share the dictations.

Other Tips to Consider

While no single solution is right for every organization or even for every project, educating yourself about how these services work is your best bet in getting your staff what they need to do their work well. Keep the following additional tips in mind as you sift through your options.

Consider your workflow
Your protocols and regulatory procedures along with the preferences of your staff and your clinic’s needs all influence which product or service is most effective. In some cases, outsourcing transcription could be extremely valuable, while for others putting resources toward training a professional in-house transcriptionist could make more sense. It all depends on how your team works, the volume of your documentation that needs to be transcribed, and how well your practice can adapt to change. Be sure to consider all of the angles before choosing a direction.

Make sure everything is in your contract
Whenever you work with a third-party vender, it’s prudent to understand exactly what to expect and at what cost. This means taking the time to read proposals and sitting down to talk through what’s there line by line. Making sure you understand all of the details can be intimidating and overwhelming, but it’s time well spent and can often pay off in the long run if you have to hold the company to the terms specified in the contract.   

Pay only for what you need
Another good reason to go over the contract with a fine-tooth comb is to ensure that you are only paying for what you actually need. Many service providers offer upgraded features and other optional components. You’ll want to be sure you understand the additional upgrades and analyzed whether you actually need them. If all you need are reliable, accurate transcriptions, the basic package may work well for you. Also, make sure you understand the pricing model you’re signing onto. Is it a one-time fee or monthly subscription, for instance? Inquire about the level of support you can expect too.

Benefits of Both

Whether you primarily need transcription services or translation services, it’s likely that your organization will need both services at some point. Both offer the potential to generate high-quality results in an ultra competitive global market. With the shortage of talent in many of the industries mentioned above, it’s likely that your staff is being increasingly called upon to do more as quickly and effectively as possible. The rising demand for expertise combined with the need to keep up with the latest technology can lead to a lot of sleepless nights for everyone involved.

That’s why finding a language partner who can deliver on a wide range of services from medical and legal to marketing and education can help your team get organized. Transcriptionists can take any audio or video recording with even the most technical information and put it into written form quickly. Translators can take that transcribed information and transform it into any language you need—well, probably not Dathraki.  

We realize you have a lot of options when it comes to transcription and translation services. At DTS Language Services, Inc., we want to be your full service language partner. Our experts have extensive experience and are here to help with everything from managing regulatory risk to gaining global market share. We strive to provide a seamless process for each project. Request your FREE quote or contact us to discuss your needs today!

10 Tips For Your Next Translation Project (Video)

10 Tips For Your Next Translation Project (Video)

Join our monthly newsletter and get our free video about 10 tips to get your next translation project off to a great start delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!