Using Word Expander Programs with Speech Recognition

This week we have a guest blogger, Rebekah Rankin, CMT .   Enjoy!

Over the last 5 years or so, the medical transcription industry has been changing dramatically with the introduction and implementation of speech recognition software.  Medical Transcriptionists went from being actual transcriptionists to becoming editors and/or proofers.  I’ve been working with MT/MTEs over the last 5 years through this transition and, believe me, it is not an easy transition for most folks.  Being an editor entails an entirely different skill set and requires extreme focus; however, once the MT has accepted the change, with practice, there’s no going back.   Most of the people I work with DREAD the report that comes in and needs to be transcribed.  No, we did not think we’d ever feel that way!

With this change in skill set/job description, a lot of folks have disregarded their word expander programs, thinking they’re no longer helpful.  What a misconception!  The word expander is not used in the exact same way we once used it, e.g., long templates and long phrases; however, using a word expander program in speech recognition is extremely beneficial.

As we all know, speech recognition is not 100% accurate (job security), and we still need to add words and phrases to each report.  We can still use our word expander for these common words and phrases.   My rule of thumb:  If I type out a word once, I know I’m going to need to type it out again, so I make a macro for that word.  Consistently building up your macro file is key!  

SR is pretty good at getting medical terms, and a lot of times, we are needing to add the little words.  Here are a few examples:  n=and, h=the, f=of, l=left, r=right, st=start, bg=begin.      

Most word expanders allow you to map a keyword to a keystroke.  What an amazing feature!  For example, in my current platform, if I want to add a carbon copy, I have to use these keystrokes to get the carbon copy page and make my selection:  F4>2 Tabs>A>Tab>Enter.  With my word expander, I can type out a keyword, for example, “addcopy,” and my word expander program performs these keystrokes for me.  For 1 word, I’ve just hit 6 different keystrokes on my computer.  If I use this entry 20 times a day/100 times a week, I’ve saved myself 600 keystrokes for one macro! 

Manipulating SR-generated Text:  This is a big one!  The text is already there, but it just needs a little modification. For example, SR generates, “The patient follow up yesterday.”  We need it to be, “The patient followed up yesterday.”   By placing the cursor at beginning of the word “follow,” we can have our word expander jump to the end of the word and add “ed” and then skip over to the next word.    Keyword suggestion of “;d” and our entry will use these keystrokes for us:  Control+Right Arrow>Backspace>add ed> Right arrow.   We’ve just turned 4 keystrokes into 2.  This is good for any word that needs an “ed” word ending.   This might seem to be minute; however, these little time savers do really add up in the long run.

It’s important to take note of things you’re constantly editing.  Here’s an example of a change that my SR engine generates inconsistently:  “I spent approximately 30-minute with the patient.”   I then need to go in and remove the hyphen and add the s (or vise versa) .  Quick fix:  I created the macro of “30m” to expand to 30 minutes and then delete the “30-minute” text.  

Another one of my favorite macros is using the expander program to delete text.  I have an entry to delete 1, 2, 3, and 4 words forwards and backwards; to delete to the beginning and/or end of the line; and one to delete to the end of the report.  Think about how many words we delete each hour! 

I could go on and on about the endless possibilities of using a word expander program in speech recognition, such as using pick lists and messages, macros to help remember medications and dosages, macros to open web pages, but I will save that for another day.  Just remember, we don’t use the expanders like we did in the past, but we still use them!

My advice:  Keep building your macro file, adding at least 5-10 macros each day.  Remember, for more information on your particular word expander program, use Google to find helpful hints and user guides.  There are also many networking websites, one of my favorites: .

Cheers – Happy Editing!
Rebekah Rankin, CMT
MedQuist Quality Coach


2 thoughts on “Using Word Expander Programs with Speech Recognition

  1. I like I have been checking on that website for tips and tricks for on how to do things more than five years. I really liked the programs created by Ed Weber on that site… The Barbara Grow Method is also quite interesting…

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