[AI] an article fron mumbai mirror aboute medical transcription.

Suhas Karnik suhasvkarnik at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 24 07:29:58 EDT 2007


Ref: Mumbai Mirror, July 24, 2007

A vision of hope

The country’s booming outsourcing industry brings good news to the blind
Manoj R. Nair

There are new job options for the blind now, apart from the usual work as 
telephone operators and railway announcers

When Darjeeling native Uma Phago moved to Mumbai last year to fulfil her 
dream of being financially independent, the blind 23-year-old hoped to get a 
job at least as a telephone operator.

So Phago’s present job transcribing medical records for a BPO providing 
health care services is remarkable, especially because when she came to 
Mumbai, she had not heard of medical transcription. At her seat in the 
Godrej Industries Complex in Vikhroli, Phago listens to medical records 
dictated by doctors in major American hospitals. She converts details of 
diagnosis and physicals recorded in dictaphones to text form so that 
hospitals there can meet statutory rules requiring them to keep detailed 
medical records of patients. “When I was a child, my parents would tell me 
not to fight with my brothers because I would be dependent on them for life. 
This job gives me a sense of independence that was beyond my dreams,” says 
Phago, who is studying for a bachelor’s degree in arts from SNDT University.

For people like Phago, India’s booming outsourcing industry spells good 
news. A few months back, Tata Indicom inaugurated a call centre entirely 
serviced by blind employees to sell their telecom products. The company 
where Phago works, CBay Remote Services Limited employs around 400 people in 
India, including 100 trainees at various centres. At its Mumbai facilities, 
10 employees, including four trainees, are blind.

According to Pallavi Kadam, deputy director, National Association for the 
Blind (NAB) which provides vocational training and recruitmentTimes Ascent: 
Potential beyond boundaries
http://www.timesascent.in/ services to the blind, call centres offer hope of 
creating mass employment for the blind. “For the first time, there are new 
job options for them, apart from the usual work as telephone operators and 
railway announcers.”

Phago’s colleague Naeem Solkar learnt English stenography and basic computer 
programming after obtaining a degree in arts. “But no company was willing to 
employ me. Medical transcription is a great job opportunity for us,” he 
says.

Another worker, Akram Khan, was unemployed for a long time though he had a 
degree in economics and was trained to be a telephone operator. “Government 
jobs that once held promise for the blind are now few,” he says. Hari 
Bhalerao, who works as a telephone operator and clerk at a public sector 
bank, says that at one time, the only jobs for blind people were as packers 
and cane chair-makers. “Later, we were employed as telephone operators. Few 
new job opportunities emerged after that. Call centres offer new hope for 
the unemployed blind,” says Bhalerao.

Shaival Trivedi, business head of CBay RSL, says the idea of employing blind 
workers came after a casual enquiry from NAB which had trained the first 
blind transcriptors in India four years back. “At that time, we were 
starting to train a new batch of recruits. We decided to give the NAB 
candidates a chance,” says Trivedi.

When the new recruits took their seats on the work floor, their presence 
initially bewildered the other workers and trainers. “It was a shock when we 
were informed that visually impaired workers were joining us. We have 
sighted people who struggle with the requirements of the job,” says 
Raghunathan, a trainer.

But the misgivings about the new workers were proved unwarranted when they 
met and even crossed daily targets. Depending on the size of the medical 
records of each patient, each operator is expected to transcribe between 15 
and 20 files a day. The transcriptors are expected to convert one minute of 
voice based information into text in seven minutes. The trainers claim the 
new workers have rarely missed the target. “They have great listening and 
comprehension skills and that is what is required,” says Trivedi.

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