Medical Transcription

Medical transcription has become an integral part of the healthcare process, aiding in the process of record creation, essentially providing an effective back end support for healthcare facilities. Though this process is an integral part of the healthcare process, it is not part of the core business of the healthcare facility. The easy fix to ensure creation of patient records in a cost-effective, accurate, speedy and secure way is to outsource the entire process to a professional medical transcription service provider.

Choosing the right service provider is vital as it is a partnership that will have long-term impact on the running of the healthcare facility. It is a business decision that requires a process of qualification and evaluation to ensure that a working partnership is formed. To this end numerous factors have to be considered.

What are the factors to be considered while outsourcing? The process of choosing the right transcription vendor should logically follow a process involving two phases.

First phase of the outsourcing decision:
Purpose: This part of the process is probably one of the most ignored and important steps in the entire process. This step requires the healthcare facility to clearly define what it hopes to gain from the whole exercise. Typically this could include:

  • Streamlining the transcription flow: Ensures that the process of converting dictation files into patient records happens as a matter of course
  • Reducing the turnaround time: Can ensure that the turnaround time required by the healthcare professional is met with
  • Lowering costs: Helps save on costs creating patient transcripts as well as other associated costs
  • Better focus on core business: Has the additional benefit of allowing the healthcare facility to concentrate on the core business of providing quality healthcare profitably
  • Having a leaner organizational structure: Helps the organization structure leaner by ensuring that along with the need for transcriptionists, other staff like managers, administrators and IT staff is reduced
  • Quickening the receivables process: Ensures that records are created on time, thus helping to accelerate the first stage of the receivables cycle
  • Deliverables expected from the outsourcing process: This stage could involve defining the exact parameters to measure the outcome of outsourcing medical transcription:

    Acceptable accuracy levels: This is perhaps the most crucial factor, as the information captured plays an important role in continued patient care
    Turnaround time for both regular reports and STAT files: Turnaround time is very important as the information should not only be accurate but also timely
    Total security of confidential patient information: Maintaining the confidentiality of patient data at every stage is mandatory for healthcare facilities. While outsourcing, due consideration needs to be given to this factor
    Factoring future requirements: This essentially means that the healthcare facility has to include the transcription requirements that may arise from the future expansion plans, including:

    Adding new specialties: Adding on new specialties would require that the transcription vendor should be in a position to provide transcription services for the new specialties without compromising the accuracy or turnaround time
    Opening of new branches: Expansion plans of the healthcare facility would have an impact on the transcription capacity
    Adoption of EMR: It is important to ascertain that the medical transcription service provider has capabilities to integrate information with EMR/EHR in the form of HL7 messages

    Second phase of the outsourcing decision:
    Sourcing proposals from medical transcription service providers: This has become easy considering that information is only a click away. However it is important to look for more than the price offered for services

    Receiving proposals: This stage would involve sorting through the proposals received to look for qualifying features like experience of the service provider, HIPAA/HITECH compliance, technology used and the type of team available to execute the work

    Evaluation: This stage of the process would involve evaluating the service provider on the basis of criteria like accuracy, turnaround time, price and security.

    Verifying the credentials. This part of the process involves two steps:

    Verifying references: This would mean following-up on the testimonials of customers who have availed similar services
    Availing free trial: Availing a free trial of services ensures that the transcription vendor is able to deliver services as promised

    Signing the contract: This is the final step in the outsourcing process involving defining in black and white what the role of each party is in the outsourcing process.

    Outsourcing the medical transcription requirements is essentially like choosing a long-term partner and needs to be done with a great deal of care.

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