Usage Tips from Instant Text Users

Guidelines for IT Glossary Compilation
Step 1: Generate Subglossaries.

by Robert Hill

Here are some tips to consider in the creation of subglossaries.

Let Instant Text do the work of creating glossaries.

Instant Text is designed to compile lists of words and phrases that you have actually used in the past. It collects these by digesting text that you feed to it. You can also manually create glossaries, but letting the computer do it is easier and much faster. You can manually edit glossaries that Instant Text produces, but it's usually easier to use the Glossary/Enrich command for adding new words and phrases.

In instances where you want to have abbreviations that generate strings of text with embedded control codes (like CTRL-B to make bold text or CTRL-U for underlined text), you may need to create manual abbreviations and expansions.

The more you can isolate text and generate glossaries from individual dictators, the more useful your IT-generated glossaries will be for their transcription.

Individual doctors, lawyers, and other professionals tend to have large working vocabularies, but their vocabularies are still finite, unique, and vary relatively little. They may use stock phrases and "terms of art" that are appropriate for their profession, but they also have their personal idiosyncrasies. Try to collect representative text for individuals that you work for and generate personalized glossaries from that.

I keep glossaries for some of the doctors whose dictation I handle regularly. These personalized glossaries offer the most sentence continuations. They also help to filter word choices. For instance, if you're transcribing a cataract extraction procedure it is highly unlikely that you'll ever use the word "appendiceal" or the phrase "Achilles tendon." It is an inefficient use of resources to have them in the working glossary for ophthalmological procedures in general or Dr. Smith's ophthalmological procedures in particular. At the same time, you're VERY likely to need the word "Healon" and the phrase "anterior chamber," things that you'll never use with Ob/Gyn procedures. By generating glossaries from Dr. Smith's ophthalmological procedures, Instant Text will get a collection of the words and phrases that Dr. Smith uses. It will not bother with words and phrases that are outside the realm of Dr. Smith's practice.

Even when their reports are read from a boilerplate and vary little between reports, you can still use Instant Text to read your boilerplate file into the linked word processor and move the cursor around to the appropriate insertion points. You can then take advantage of the Instant Text abbreviations.

Isolate text from different subjects or fields.

Even if it is not practical to use glossaries generated from individuals, it pays to have glossaries that are as specific as possible. I have glossaries for Ob/Gyn reports, ophthalmology, podiatry, etc. This is useful because you're always going to have new people to transcribe for, but the number of fields that you deal with is much more finite. I've found it useful to take C-section reports from everyone who dictates them and generate one csection.glo file from them.

Isolate text from different kinds of reports.

You can create glossaries that are taken from history and physical exam reports, psychological evaluations, legal contracts, or whatever. These highly stylized reports tend to use specific vocabularies, and Instant Text is able to extract these lists of words and phrases ex post facto. Again, be as specific as possible and practical in glossary compilation.

Come up with glossaries of words and phrases that you use across borders.

A good example of this would be a glossary of commonly used suture materials. In my experience with surgical notes, most everyone uses Vicryl, Dexon, nylon, silk, Prolene, PDS, or a few other kinds of suture material in sizes that range from #1-0 to #10-0. I've manually made a glossary that is nothing but commonly used suture materials in all sizes. For example, I type "n10v" as the abbreviation for "#1-0 Vicryl" and "n40v" as the abbreviation for "#4-0 Vicryl." This suture glossary can be merged into any other glossary as necessary.

Other examples of such "building block" surgical glossaries are lists of catheters, forceps, and clamps. In other realms, you can have lists of states, countries, months of the year, public officials, chemical compounds, and other basic sets of information that you will use in several contexts. Over time, groups of Instant Text users will determine basic glossary sets necessary for various uses.

Remember that you can have as many as 15 glossaries open at once, with one of them being active.

Of course, you can archive as many glossaries as you have disk space for. For this reason, you don't have to have absolutely every word in every single glossary. Indeed, this is impossible because there are so many words in our language. That's a job for Stedman's Medical Dictionary or the Oxford English Dictionary on CD-Rom.

We're working to establish a database of specialized glossaries that are available to be shared. For instance, there could be a glossary of chemotherapy drugs. If your H&P.glo (for use with history and physical exam reports) glossary doesn't already contain the chemotherapy drug name you're looking for, switch to the chemo.glo glossary. After you've found it and inserted it into the text that you're presently creating, switch back to the working glossary. Switching between open glossaries involves a single keystroke, pressing Ctrl+1 through Ctrl+8. This is an example of using glossaries as reference materials.

An added benefit is that if the reference glossary comes from a reputable source, then you can depend on the spelling and syntax being correct. You can also use glossaries as address books and for similar database functions.

At the end of the report, you can "enrich" your working glossary to contain the new chemotherapy drug if you think you'll need it again. In this way, you can have a glossary that is as precise as possible for each person you transcribe for yet have access to words from other contexts.

Feel free to enrich your glossaries with words that you think you'll use again and again.

On the other hand, realize that there is a size limit of 60,000 words and 60,000 phrases per glossary. It will not pay to add every single word you can think of to all of your working glossaries, but don't hesitate to add words that you think are important.