Softnet Systems, Inc. Speech Recognition Specialists


Professional Transcription

Benefits to Transcriptionists

Speech recognition may seem to put transcriptionists out of work. In localized cases that might be possible. But a good transcriptionist does things that Dragon doesn't do.

Some transcriptionists use Dragon to reduce their own keyboarding. Whether for health reasons or for productivity, the basic method that can be used when transcribing a wide range of voices is to "echo dictate." That is, you listen and speak at the same time, adding needed punctuation and/or Dragon commands as needed. In some cases, this can be done at approximately the speed of the person dictating. Correction can be done as you notice errors, or upon completion of sections of the dictation. Key factors for success include:

  • Ability to listen and speak at the same time. Some have this ability, some don't. But you can try listening and redictating without speech recognition software.
  • Good transcription skills
  • Learning how to make the software format words and phrases as your customers need them. That's easiest to do with Dragon Medical or Legal, then Professional, then Premium/Home.
  • Practice, as few make the transition in less than a few weeks.


Costs to Transcriptionist

Some of the costs are optional, some can be time/cost tradeoffs.

Expense Categories
  • Speech Recognition software, $150-1600 if echo-dictating
    • Long-term there are update costs, averaging $100-$200/year
    • Dragon Professional Individual ($300) is likely the appropriate choice for new users.
    • In non-medical settings, Professional or Legal is advised. That specifically lets you maintain multiple vocabularies, provides better abilities to build vocabularies for high accuracy, and allows more customizations for specialized formatting.
    • For medical transcription, Nuance® Dragon® Medical Practice Edition 2 is recommended. It will be much more accurate out-of-the-box, supports several different vocabularies, and allows you to create users with different formatting conventions which may correspond to different clients. For those transcribing only a single specialty, with a lot of work (several hours) you can build a vocabulary that may handle all the formatting that is included in Dragon Medical. If handling multiple specialties, Dragon Medical has higher value. Many end up establishing a separate vocabulary per client.
  • If processing recorded speech from different persons, one license per speaker is required to conform to the license terms!
  • Microphones, $100-$500
    • Often requires trying multiple microphones to find the proper choice
    • Consultation time may be required
    • A backup microphone should be considered
    • Binaural (both ears) headsets are more common since listening is so important. VXi tends to have better headphones than Andrea headsets, the VXi TalkPro-200 has been a favorite model for transcriptionists but has been out of production for a while..
    • You must learn about your audio system(s) so that you can simultaneously have audio for listening to your recordings and have audio for Dragon.
  • A new computer, $0-$2000
    • Often cheaper than upgrading a current computer
    • Plan on ongoing computer expenses, upgrading this computer more often than with conventional transcription.
    • Can require a 2nd PC if processing recorded speech
  • Training, $500-$2000
    • This is "pay me now" or "pay me later" in many cases, where not providing training will cause you to take more time learning the software on your own. You can spend $0 on training, then spend 1-2 weeks (perhaps over a period of months) learning the software.
  • Customization, $0-$2,000
    • May benefit from limited customization for Microsoft Office products and other applications well-supported by NaturallySpeaking.
    • Sometimes customization leads to greater efficiency, speeding up parts of the work!
  • Reduction in Productivity $???
    • For some people, using speech simply isn't efficient. For some people, using speech is a significant problem and they aren't willing or able to learn to use a speech interface.
    • Lack of customization can make an interface too difficult to use effectively. Customization of a speech interface for a program can sometimes make a user as efficient or even more efficient than a person using the keyboard.
    • Others may look at speech to prevent injury (carpal tunnel). That may be priceless and make up for minor productivity reductions

Transcribing Directly from Recordings

The "holy grail" is to be able to sit back, collect recordings from several people, and let the computer process the transcription while you collect the fees.

  • Results vary wildly. With some people, this is almost possible. You have to review the reports, but they come out good from the start.
  • Short reports still require lots of time manipulating files
  • Tools for transcription in this fashion aren't solid applications. Expect some struggles.
  • The license requirement for one license per dictator must be honored.
  • Great recorders (often costing over $400) make the odds of success much higher. But they don't guarantee success. The Philips 8000 and Olympus DS-7000 fit this profile.

Some transcriptionists are pragmatic -- they try different clients with Dragon NaturallySpeaking or Dragon Medical, and use it for those where the results are good while using conventional transcriptions for others (the mumblers, stumblers, those who dictate more instructions than words, etc.).

Transcription is a profession. We can help provide tools but you'll have to figure out how to use them or pay to have us help you use them. The Supplemental Training DVD we offer can be very helpful as it covers many topics not normally taught to single speakers. We've over 100 transcriptionists using the software today, and we're a tiny dealer. Most of these are "in the closet" and look to the rest of the world like traditional transcriptionists. They just earn more with less work, and are better able to compete with off-shore companies.


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