Today, we probably don’t think twice when we upload digital files for transcription purposes or even make a digital recording in a quiet room. But how did medical transcription actually begin and what could be the story behind one of the most important industries in the world today?

Transcription in short simply means the art of writing exactly what one hears. If we were to analyse the history of medicine as such, we would find that written records of medical problems have existed for centuries. In the old days, records were primarily maintained by the doctors themselves so that important details such as the patient’s name, symptoms, height, weight, other vital statistics, history of medical problems, medication prescribed and any other information could be understood at a glance. In fact, our modern day doctors do much the same except that instead of maintaining digital records, ancient doctors and medicine men went to great lengths to diligently record their observations on wooden tablets, parchments and then paper.

In fact, it is believed that drawings and paintings featuring advances made in medical science and prescribed treatments have even been recorded on temple walls and prehistoric caves.

By the early 1900’s, the main responsibility of a doctor lay in treating the patient and other responsibilities such as creating a patient’s medical record, keeping the files up to date and any other related paperwork eventually fell into the hands of hired medical stenographers. With the invention of typewriters, maintaining records became easier and with the invention of cassette players, it made way for the development of transcription machines. The initial versions available for purchase, offered the ability to record speech on cassette tapes. In fact, they were very popular for a long time although they did not offer much voice clarity at all. As soon as the usage of computers picked up in organizations and in other sectors, cassette tapes were replaced with better storage devices such as floppy discs and CD’s. Today, the availability of highly sophisticated recording equipment ensures that multiple high clarity files can be created, stored and sent for transcription purposes.

The software used for transcription is also very important and it is believed that this software was initially developed in the early sixties, although it was first used for streamlining manufacturing processes. MRP or Manufacturing Resource Planning software actually laid the foundation for further advances in Medical transcription software. The history of transcription itself is difficult to contain in a nutshell, but it is undoubtedly the success story of efforts put in by individuals to make life better for others merged with advances made in technology itself. Jotting down medical details of patients has come a long way from the early days.