Thursday, June 12, 2008

MT Lines Counts and the VBC, a New CONTROVERSY

For ages and ages, the MT line has been defined as 65 characters (including spaces). This 'standard' has been by consensus rather than in any sense a rule or regulation. Various other schemes have come and gone or are still hanging around in the background and these include the ASCII line, gross line, gross page, per minute pricing, and visible black character (VBC) measurement standards. Even if the VBC standard were not obviously unfair, the fact is that the introduction of any new 'standard' is always an excuse to reduce payouts.

Recently, the VBC standard has raised its ugly head as a challenger to the 65 character line. The resurgence of VBC has to be credited to industry bodies such as AHIMA and the MTIA (American Health Information Management Association, Medical Transcription Industry Association). Needless to say both of these organizations are run by industry barons whose only concern is to maximize profits, and if that means shortchanging the MTs, then that's just too bad. The advent and active promotion of VBC simply means that everyone earns 15% to 32% (on average) LESS per line.

MTs themselves really do not have anywhere to turn and it is high time they got together and started a unified fight for their rights and for some decent MT friendly norms in the industry.
MTs in India and the Philippines will scarcely feel the pinch as they are already paid about 5 times less than their American colleagues. But, for American MTs, who are already in full retreat over the massive loss of lines exported out by American based MNCs, the VBC may just prove to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

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