Medical Transcription Service

Aug 14, 2020
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Choosing a medical transcription service can be difficult at first, as you must separate the good from the bad. Transcription outsourcing requires you to send sensitive information to a third party; not only must you be sure it will deliver a quality product so you get your money’s worth every time, you must also trust it to manage your patients’ records with care.


Transcription Services & Voice Recognition Software

Medical transcription services have long been a tool of medical practices and hospitals. Trained transcriptionists – whether they’re employed in-house or by a third-party service, save physicians time by writing out and editing dictations for personal notes, charts or communications with other medical professionals. Third-party transcription services often have several layers of quality control, meaning more pairs of eyes scour the transcribed document for mistakes before it’s returned to the dictating physician. Most services charge a fee – usually 6 to 14 cents – per line of transcription, but for a practice that generates a lot of reports, it can be worth the cost to shift that workload to an outside source.


In recent years, the medical transcription industry has undergone a massive shift that has made another option widely available. The arrival of relatively cheap and fairly accurate voice recognition software has driven down the demand for human transcriptionists. With voice recognition software, physicians can complete their reports and finalise them in real time, without waiting for a transcriptionist to return it.


While voice recognition software reduces turnaround time, the dictating physician now must act as the proofreader as well. Although voice recognition software has come a long way, it still makes plenty of mistakes and requires human oversight. Many physicians find the extra workload unnecessary and irritating, and more errors are likely to get through without the added layers of protection a transcription service offers. Others see voice recognition software as the best, cheapest way to quickly and efficiently generate notes and reports.


A key benefit of both transcription services and voice recognition software, is that they allow doctors to have more personal encounters with patients, rather than be distracted by filling out charts during the appointment.

Choosing a Medical Transcription Service

If you decide a trained human transcriptionist is the best option for you but don’t want to allocate internal resources to the task, a third-party transcription service could provide a great deal of assistance to your medical practice. You have to know a few things about the company you’re partnering with first, though.



Previously, the industry standard was 6 to 14 pence per line (a line being 65 characters). Now, there is a shift toward what are known as “visible black characters,” or VBCs. A VBC is any character of typed text, like a letter or punctuation mark, so spaces don’t count. 


Turnaround Time

Most transcription services have a standard turnaround of about 24 hours. However, some documents can be completed even quicker, and many services can prioritise certain documents for an additional fee. For standard documentation, if a company’s turnaround time is much longer than 24 hours, you might want to shop around a bit more.


Layers of Oversight

A good transcription service will offer two to four layers of quality assurance – meaning three or four individual people, including the transcriptionist, will take a look at your transcribed record before it is returned for your signature. This practice virtually guarantees that errors will be caught and rectified before the transcribed document is returned to your practice. However, some transcription services only have one layer of human oversight. You’ll want to know exactly how many pairs of eyes look over your documents before they are returned. You should also make sure your documents are being created by a certified medical transcriptionist.


Speciality Experience and Certified Transcriptionists

The documents you need transcribed might be very different from those of other specialities, so it’s always important to ensure the company you contract with has experience serving your speciality. You should check references for the company and ask to see examples of its past work for your field. Remember, if the company provides you with a list of references, they are probably only the favourable ones. Ask for a complete list of the company’s clientele in your area and field to get the real scoop. You’ll also want to make sure the company employs certified medical transcriptionists who are well trained and experienced.


Once you choose a medical transcription service, you can begin dictating. There are several ways to do this, and the method might vary based on the service you select. Sometimes, physicians will dial in to the company’s database by phone and dictate into the system, where a transcriptionist will access the recording to create the written record. Other times, physicians can use an audio recorder and digitally upload the files to the transcription service. If you prefer, you can always send recorded tapes by snail mail, but this will likely have a slower turnaround.

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