Computer Specs for Medical Transcription Work;- Doing medical transcription requires a lot of brain power but not a lot of computing power. There’s no real need for a high-end CPU, super video card, or storage units (unless you want them for another purpose), and the money you save can be put into buying a better (or extra) monitor or comfortable chair.
The specs suggested here are guidelines provided to help you get the performance you need without paying for things you don’t.
Before you go computer shopping, arm yourself with some terms so that salespeople don’t confuse you with geek talkers. Here are the terms you should know:
CPU: A central processing unit (processor) is an electronic chip that acts as the brain of a computer.
Random Access Memory: RAM is the computer equivalent of human working memory, where things are briefly stored and constantly exchanged.
Motherboard: A flat circuit board (usually a weird green) inside the computer that everything else is connected to, including the CPU and RAM. It’s like the Interstate Highway System for your computer. Motherboards have slots for connecting small circuit boards, such as a graphics card.
Card: A small circuit board that you can attach to the motherboard to add an extra feature, such as improved sound or graphics.
Port: A slot into which you can plug in something, such as a monitor, keyboard, network cable, or copy foot pedal. There are different types of ports for connecting different devices.
Hard Disk: The primary storage device where all your files and data that you need to keep for longer than a few seconds are stored.
Bluetooth: A wireless technology for exchanging data over very short distances, such as between a keyboard and a computer. It can also be used to synchronize information between devices, such as between a mobile phone and a computer. It’s not the only short-range wireless technology, but it’s increasingly common.
There’s a lot of jargon for where this came from, but don’t sweat the extra alphabet soup. Defining everything will require a very boring full dictionary, most of which is not very important for the average computer user. If you come across a troubling term that you are concerned about, Google and your nearest computer salesperson are willing to define it for you.
Desktops and laptops come with basic audio and graphics capabilities built into them. If you want high-level performance, you can add a specialized graphics card or sound card. Technical specifications for desktop and laptop computers are listed in the table.
Microsoft Windows is the preferred operating system for medical transcription. As of Windows 7, it is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The bit thing is about how it handles the data, not how many bits it comes in. A 32-bit Windows computer will work fine, but if you’re buying a new hardware, use 64-bit, or you can eventually upgrade at a later time.
RAM: The amount of RAM you have matters, because swapping things in and out of RAM is much faster than reading and writing to a hard drive, which is what happens when RAM is full. Since MTs often have multiple applications running simultaneously, RAM should be high on your priority list. Of note, 32-bit versions of Windows can’t take advantage of more than 4GB, but 64-bit versions can.
USB ports: USB stands for universal serial bus, a type of connection used to connect external devices to a computer. You can’t have too many USB ports — they’re currently the top connection type for plugging in new stuff. Things that typically plug into a USB port include keyboards, mice/trackballs, printers, external hard drives, and most transcription foot pedals.
Graphics: Whatever graphics processor comes built into your computer will do, but if you add a graphics card, you’ll get much better performance for activities like watching videos.
Most important, pay attention to the number of graphics ports you can connect a monitor to. A desktop computer should have at least two of them. You may not use both right off the bat, but if you stick with MT work, you’re likely to want to hook up a second monitor.
You may be wondering about sound capabilities; after all, you’re going to be listening to a lot of dictation audio on this computer. From the computer specs perspective, the integrated sound provided on typical motherboard should do the job fine.
Some medical transcriptionists opt to install a dedicated sound card and are thrilled with the results. Usually, though, unintelligible dictation is a result of something other than the quality of your sound system.