Medical transcription service a step higher - President
Stabroek News
September 24, 2002

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The medical transcription programme undertaken by Decipher International, the Government of Guyana and Demerara Distillers Ltd, is a step higher on the information technology ladder for Guyana. So said President Jagdeo during a recent visit to the Medical Transcription Centre.

The transcription course is one that teaches students to record doctors' findings on a patient's history for future references as well as insurance claims and other relevant information about that patient, using information technology. After diagnosis, the information is fed into a telephone or a recorder and the transcriptionist records the details, forming a document.

Decipher International, a company from India, is promoting the programme locally. It was initiated in Trinidad and Tobago last year and according to a Government Information Agency release, has trained some 200 students to date.

President Jagdeo expressed the hope that this programme will be the platform to move "our country into more information technology related services and also to generate some new industries outside of the traditional ones."

The programme costs some $270,000. Decipher had originally suggested that the students access loans from Scotia Bank to pay their fees. However many of them were unable to secure guarantors and as such were unable to be part of the programme, even after passing the initial test.

A meeting was then initiated by Decipher and the government to discuss the constraints faced by the students, with the guarantee of jobs for the successful students at the end of the course. On June 25, President Jagdeo met the students after which he announced that the government had decided to stand as guarantor for the students' loans. He also said that if the bank in question was not willing then the government would negotiate with another bank. The President also announced a $10,000 stipend for the first three months of the course and the same for the remaining time, which was negotiable. He further said that the Government's main interest in the programme is the job opportunities as this was an "internationally marketable skill". He stated that he was assured by Decipher officials that the starting salary for trancriptionists was $45,000 and ran up to $90,000 therefore persons should not see the programme as an opportunity to be equipped to migrate.

According to the release, the administration also provided about $30 million for the training facility, computers and other equipment and furniture for the training programme. While the centre has the capacity to train 100 students at a time, it currently has a student body of 87 studying in the areas of medical class, pharmacology and medical transcription.

According to one of the tutors at the centre, the local students are doing well and have recorded passes as high as 90-odd percent.

The release also stated that the introduction of the programme to Guyana should be seen as complementary to the country's efforts to keep up with the global technology. The President said that it could also be viewed as a step to liberalising telecommunication in Guyana.

According to Decipher International, the five countries targeted to fill 1,500 job offers are Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent.