How Much Do Medical Transcription Services Cost?
No matter the size or type of of the medical practice, transforming the notes of physicians into electronic files and records is an important aspect of the medical field. Often, this is handled by a full-time transcriptionist hired by the medical practice; but this comes with the cost of hiring additional staff and the difficulty of maintaining the proper number of transcriptionists throughout fluctuating patient volume (and paying their salaries and benefits). This is why many practices decide to hire medical transcription services. Transcription services allow physician's notes to be transferred to digital files by trained professionals who are familiar with medical procedures and terminology.
Benefits of Using a Transcription Service
While it may seem easier to simply hire a transcriptionist (or team of them) yourself, hiring a service comes with a host of benefits, such as:
Accessibility: Many transcription services provide more than just note conversion and offer physicians the ability to store their records in a secure, web-based system that can be accessed from any location at any time.
CMT expertise: Transcription services employ certified medical transcriptionists (CMTs) who have been trained on the proper terminology and can produce accurate, reliable transcriptions.
Savings: Hiring a medical transcription service cuts the costs of hiring additional employees and training them, as well as reducing the amount of errors that may occur if your in-house transcriptionist is not certified.
Security: The medical field is one that requires a high amount of security and privacy, something that transcription services take very seriously. Transcription services often integrate with other softwares in order to ensure a system that is easy to use, but also incredibly secure.
What Does it Cost to Hire a Medical Transcription Service?
Pinning down the cost of hiring a medical transcription service is difficult, as there are multiple ways that different companies can charge for their services and each one will charge different prices. The most common ways that medical transcription services charge are:
- Per keystroke: This is typically used by hospital-based, larger transcription services, but is occasionally used by smaller companies as well. When companies charge per keystroke, it goes beyond just the character count. For example, the word PATIENT seven letters, but counts as 21 keystrokes, because each letter is capitalized and italicized. A program on the computer of the transcriptionist tracks the number of keystrokes.
- Per line: While it may seem that charging per line is a difficult system to navigate that can be used to charge more for their services, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity does have some standards to keep things in check. A standardized line of transcription contains 65 characters and spaces, so while something like "Treatment Process:" may be a single line in the document, it only consists of 18 characters and would not be considered a line charge by the transcription service. Pricing per line can be easily verified by checking the character count of the document.
- Per minute of dictation: This is a common way that services charge for medical transcription and very straightforward as far as the process is concerned; you are simply charged a fee set by the transcription service for each minute that is being dictated. This includes any pauses that occur (looking through papers, verifying notes, etc.) during dictation, unless you pause the recording while doing so.
- Per page: Commonly used by home-based transcriptionists, this is another fairly straightforward method of charging. Unless discussed and negotiated before hiring the transcription service, you will pay the same amount for each page, whether it is full or partial.
Remember that prices will vary from company to company, so it is a good idea to compare multiple services to determine what they charge as well as what features they may have that can better assist your practice.
Additional Cost Considerations
There are certain factors that must be taken into account when considering the total cost of hiring a medical transcription service. Any requests for special formats or styles, such as headers, footers, logos, page numbers, etc., can impact the overall cost. Turnaround time is also important, as the faster you want the service to finish transcribing, the higher the cost. The complexity of the work will also play a role, with audio clarity/quality, background noise, and multiple speakers all factoring into the final price.