All You Ever Needed To Know About Digital Dictation

PART I – Why Bother?

According to Dictaphone, in 1952 recorded dictation was firmly established as a time saver over handwriting and stenography among attorneys, physicians and other professionals. In 1957, the first “portable” dictation unit was created (which weighed in at a hefty 2 lbs!) and in 1973, the first mini-cassette recorder was marketed. What this means is that using analog (tape based) dictation is the technological equivalent of listening to music on an 8 track!

In today’s age, digital dictation technology affords attorneys, law firm administrators, companies which service the legal industry, law schools and other businesses and organizations a low cost means to incorporate the proven benefits of recorded dictation and compound those benefits by making the process digital.

In addition to the time saving features of dictation itself, upgrading to digital can significantly decrease the cost of producing documents by re-examining the entire business process. If your firm uses dictation, the process generally goes something like this:

Dictator – tape recorder – tape – secretary – transcription machine – word processing software – printer – Dictator (and back for revisions, either dictated or via hand).

By going digital, one significant change is that there are no more tapes. Instead, an electronic audio file is created which can be distributed just as any other type of electronic file – as an attachment to an e-mail, over your firm’s LAN to your secretary or through a VPN with an off site transcription service. Immediately gone are the days when you have to stay late to hand off a tape to your secretary or drive into the office on the weekend to leave a tape on her chair. As a bonus, by removing the tape’s physical presence, you also eliminate the need for YOUR presence! Once digital, you can dictate on the road, while waiting for a case to be called or even from the comfort of your favorite recliner! (OK, not likely, but still possible!) 🙂

Another bonus of no more tapes – you will never have to redo a dictation because the tape got lost, recorded over, or eaten by the transcription machine. Once your voice is captured, it can be stored indefinitely!

Hospitals, doctors and those within the medical industry have been using digital dictation as a standard business practice for over a decade. The medical industry has forged ahead of the legal industry and streamlined the digital document generation process. The legal industry benefits from following the medical field, in that compliance with patient confidentiality and HIPAA has made the technology itself inherently secure, practically eliminating client confidentiality concerns.

I hope you have enjoyed Part I of this three Part series – Upgrading to Digital – All You Ever Wanted To Know But Were Too Busy to Research. In Part II, I will explore the wide variety of methods available to capture your dictation – telephone, portable recorders, digital dictation software or a combination of all. In Part III, I will discuss rethinking another standard component of the document generation process by introducing you to virtual assistants and shedding some light on how to locate, assess and contract with off site cyber assistants.