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For a medical office assistant (MOA), medical language and transcription skills are an important part of their training experience. But in these days of outsourcing, electronic health records, and voice recognition software, are these skills still necessary for medical office work?

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Providers who have a large amount of material to transcribe will often outsource to a Medical Transcription Service.  This frees up their office staff to focus their attention on clients and day to day office administration.  However, it is not uncommon for a physician with only a small amount of dictation, such as letters or the occasional report, to have a member of their staff provide the transcription.  Having transcription skills enables the medical office professional to be prepared to meet the potential needs of their employer.

Voice recognition software is often mistakenly seen as a replacement for transcription services.  However, in reality, these types of software programs often only change the focus of the office professional’s activities.  Instead of typing a report or document from scratch, the MOA takes on the role of editor – reading and correcting the inevitable mistakes made by the computer.  This can be due to differences in pronunciation, sound-alike terms, or even mistakes in the original transcription (such as referring to a male patient as “she”) that a computer is not able to detect.  Some professional medical transcriptionists have changed their job title to Medical Language Specialist to reflect this difference.

Another change to the role of transcription in a medical office is the growing prevalence of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs).  As providers move to recording patient information into a computer database either during or shortly after the patient visit, the need for dedicated transcription of encounter notes may decrease.  However, some providers have found that this need for constant recording of notes in the patient’s record is taking up a large amount of their time – time they’d rather be spending assessing their patients.

To respond to this complaint, a new role of Medical Scribe has started to appear in some practices in the US with interest also rising in Canada.  A scribe would be present during the examination, with the patient’s permission, and take on the responsibility of recording the physician’s notes while they focus on their patient.  While this is not a time-saver overall, many physicians report higher satisfaction with their level of patient interaction.

So, while not all medical office professionals will find they use transcription skills on a regular basis, the current and future need for transcription skills is still very present in the medical office.  triOS College  Medical Office Assistant graduates with both skills in transcription and editing, as well as a strong knowledge of medical language, will be in demand now and in the future.

Written by: Amy Pytlowany
Medical Office Assistant Faculty Head


Amy has been teaching at triOS College for over 10 years.  She teaches in the Medical Office Assistant program and facilitates the online payroll courses.  She has a BSc in Human Biology from the University of Western Ontario, the Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) certification, and several technical certifications including MCSE. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with her students, and watching them succeed when they enter the field.