Want to organize physician’s handwritten notes and prescriptions into electronic documents without spending a fortune? A medical transcription service is the perfect solution for you.
All medical institutions require computerization of medical notes for clean and compact record-keeping, insurance claims processing, quick reference, conferencing and various other reasons. Hospitals and clinics have long been hiring full time transcriptionists to do the same. But this is an expensive option and not the ideal solution if you have varying volume of transcription needs. Alternatively, you can give transcription duties to other clerical staff or use voice recognition software. But these solutions can be quite inaccurate, putting the health of your patients at stake. Your clerical staff may not be well trained for medical transcription and accuracy of voice recognition usually is too low to be useful. A medical transcription service gives you the best combination of expense, quality and accuracy.
How does a medical tanscription service work?
* Physicians dictate their notes into a recording device, usually a toll-free phone line or handheld digital recorder. Most medical transcription services support both these methods. Some services also accept recorded cassettes. Mp3 is the preferred sound format when using digital recorders, though other formats can also be used.
* The recorded information is then sent to the medical transcription service provider. Information security during transfer is critical. Your patients’ personal information must not be leaked out at any cost. Digital recordings are submitted via the Internet. This can be done using a secure web site and file transfer protocol (FTP) using custom software from the provider, or even through encrypted email. In case of a toll-free line, the information is directly recorded on the provider’s servers.
* The recorded notes are then transcribed and returned to the hospital or clinic. Information is usually returned as word files, though other formats like pdf can also be specified. Delivery methods include secure web sites, FTP, custom software, encrypted email and in some cases fax.
More comprehensive medical transcription services are also available. They offer an online system that stores both the audio files and transcripts, organizes them by date, doctor, or patient, and keeps track of progress as they’re being transcribed. These services are more expensive but offer substantial management benefits.
Accuracy: The returned work must have accuracy close to 100 per cent. Select a medical transcription service that employs experienced and skilled medical transcriptionists and quality assurance professionals who review the transcriptions before delivering them to you. Your doctors should review and evaluate each transcript on delivery to prevent any damage to your patients’ health and well-being.
Turnaround Time: It refers to the maximum time within which medical transcripts will be delivered to you after submitting the audio recordings. Most medical transcription services offer a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours. Most also include a STAT service that allows you to specify a turnaround time of one-, two- or four-hours at an additional cost. Different types of notes can have different turnaround times.
Security: Medical transcription services are subject to HIPAA rules about patient confidentiality. The industry standard for internet security is 128-bit SSL security. Physical security at the provider location is also important. Careful employee screening and tracking is essential. Audit trails can assist in tracking employees. An audit trail keeps track of each individual who accesses a given set of notes and the modifications they make.
Sound Quality: Good quality of sound recording is essential for performance. Digital handheld recorders provide better sound, though they carry an additional hardware cost. Some medical transcription services charge lower prices if you provide them with better quality recordings.
Location of service: Many medical transcription services use both domestic and international transcriptionists. There is generally no difference in quality and accuracy between the domestic and outsourced services. Having transcription teams all around the world enables the service providers to meet deadlines. You will most like pay more for service if you insist on using medical transcriptionists located in a developed country like the US.
How much will you have to pay?
You are charged per line of text. The industry standard is 65 characters in a single line including spaces. Some service providers however, include lesser number of characters in a single line. Price usually ranges from $.05 to $.20 per line. Before you select a vendor, compare price quotes from multiple medical transcription companies.
Most medical transcription service providers offer free trial runs. Carefully assess the provider’s ability to meet deadlines, the accuracy of transcripts, and ease of interaction with their customer service representatives during the trial run. Many providers assign a dedicated team of transcriptionists for long term contracts and also offer lower prices. Carefully evaluate your requirements, the providers and the available services before making a decision.
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