The Difference between Transcription and Secretarial Services

by Sheila Campbell

At 2Ascribe medical transcription services, over the years we’ve invested heavily into software and hardware to automate processes, improve productivity and ensure we meet or exceed all federal and provincial privacy and patient identifiable security regulations.  And we’re constantly working on improving quality – we can never be ‘too good’.  All dictations and documents reside on secure servers, themselves in secure locations.  Only the people who must have access to a file, to transcribe it and monitor it for quality, can access it – and they can only access it once.  We deal with thousands of dictations each day, and it’s critical that there are automated processes in place that allow us to handle these kinds of volumes.  It makes us very different from the services provided by an administrative assistant or medical secretary who does transcription.

Over 70% of our clients choose to dictate using the telephone; others prefer a digital recorder.  We only handle mini- and microcassette tapes to help an office get ‘caught up’.  That’s the only time we physically have the dictation.  All others are electronic files. 

We return documents in MS Word as a soft copy, so that the physician or their administrative person can make changes to the documents.  Once a document is sent securely (through our client portal WEBscribe or by password protected and with strong encryption email) to the client, we no longer have any input into the document.  If the physician wants to make changes or the administrative person wants to correct an address, they do that themselves.  A secretary could take either written (interpreting instructions written on the printed document) or verbal instructions on making changes to a document, such as adding an additional cc.  And 2Ascribe would not then have a copy of the edited document.  And a secretary has access to the physician to ask about a particular word that is unclear.  They also have access to the medical records to get the correct spelling of patient and referring physicians’ names.  And they know which of the 134 Dr. Smiths in the CPSO directory the physician is sending the referral letter to.

If a physician chooses to dictate one document from several patient encounters, the secretary can easily merge them into one letter or report.  At 2Ascribe, we do our best to merge documents that were dictated on the same day, but we are unable to do a ‘running documentary’ from several dictations on different dates.

However, secretaries take time off, get sick and move on.  At 2Ascribe Inc., you never have to worry about staffing issues.  And you don’t pay someone when there’s no work to be done. 

Here’s a chart to compare the different services.



Medical Transcription

Access to patient names and referring physician information


From faxed day sheet if provided



Only for catch-up, then telephone or digital recorder going forward

Priority Files

Yes, if dictated on a separate tape or indicate where on the tape the urgent dictation is located

Press 8 when recording

Merge documents

Yes, dictated over a day or several days

Yes, dictated over a single day


Secretary or physician

Secretary or physician

Ability to ask for clarification



Handle variable workload

Only if part-time (or paid overtime if workload increases)


Catch-up from high volume or when secretary is away




Depends on secretary


Manage personnel




Depends on office procedures and staffs’ discretion

Meets or exceeds all federal and provincial regulations


One at a time, needs confirmation that document was received

AUTOfax – automatically faxes to up to three offices when document edited online – saves on postage and time.  Online report to confirm delivery


Time consuming and requires envelopes and stamps

See AUTOfax – automated and economical way to deliver signed off reports

Turnaround time

Depends on volume of work and their ability to work on any given day.

Next business day.


Fixed (salary & benefits)

Variable, only when physician dictates


Administrative Assistants and secretaries have the edge over transcription companies when it comes to having access to the physician to ask them questions about a dictation, and make last minute changes to a document.  Medical transcription services such as 2Ascribe Inc., are able to manage variable workloads, provide custom service with templates and letterhead, have excellent turnaround time and provide consistent quality. 

As well, it’s economical to outsource your transcription.  If you want to check out how much more economical it is, try our widget “In-house VS Outsourcing” on our website, at



2Ascribe Inc. is a medical transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario Canada, providing medical transcription services to physicians, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada and the US.  Having recently introduced WEBscribe, a client interface portal for document management, 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians and other healthcare providers.  As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest.  Additional articles may be found at  


You might also enjoy

AI Bias

The results created by an AI model can be considered