Choose a Word Expander for Your Medical Transcription Work - dummies

Choose a Word Expander for Your Medical Transcription Work

By Anne Martinez

Word expanders are the number-one time-saving tool for medical transcriptionists. There’s more than one way to get your hands on a word expander. You can pick one out and buy it yourself (highly recommended) or use one that’s provided to you. They come in two forms:

  • Standalone software applications: Installing a standalone expander is like adding a utility service to your computer. After you fire it up, it runs in the background, making shortcut functionality available to other programs you use. Standalone expanders aren’t always compatible with every possible application you may use, but they’re amazingly versatile. They’ll work right alongside Microsoft Word and many specialized medical transcription platforms.

  • Built-in features of other programs: Expanders that exist as integrated features of other programs are much less versatile. They often come at a great price, though: free. Many medical transcriptionists (MTs) do their transcribing with Microsoft Word. Its AutoCorrect feature is essentially an expander. It has very limited functionally compared to standalone expanders, but you can put it to good use if you understand it well.

Power and portability make a stand-alone the best option for those who get to choose. They aren’t free, but your initial investment will pay off many times over, especially if you become an expander master.

As an added bonus, if you end up working on a different transcription platform, your shortcuts often can come right along with you. And that’s not all . . . if you order today, you can also swap expander files with other MTs who use the same system, if you’re so inclined. Two expanders are particularly popular among MTs:

  • Instant Text, by Textware Solutions

  • Shorthand for Windows by OfficeSoft

Instant Text is more powerful, but both of them have busloads of MT cheerleaders and way too many fabulous features to list here. Fortunately, they also both have fully functional 30-day trial versions, so you can test-drive them and pick a favorite.

If you work on a proprietary medical transcription platform, it may have an expander built in. Just because it’s there, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your only option. Instant Text or Shorthand for Windows may well work with the platform, even if your employer isn’t aware of it. Because the standalones are usually better, try one out and see what happens.

As an extra incentive, keep in mind that if you’re using a built-in expander program and you happen to change employers, you’ll most likely have to leave your entire, wonderful expander file behind and start a new one from scratch. If you want to see a seasoned MT cry, take away her word expander. Just make sure you’re standing well out of reach first.