It has been proven that outsourcing medical transcription has numerous benefits that aid the healthcare facility in reducing costs and increasing focus on the core business of providing quality healthcare. As these services are a continuous requirement, it is important to source a service provider who can consistently provide quality services. While outsourcing medical transcription it is important to consider a service provider who can be more of a partner than a vendor.Once the service provider has been sourced and evaluated it is important to formalize the expected service levels in writing. This will clearly establish the expected levels of quality, enabling the vendor to gear their resources to deliver quality services consistently. As the needs of each healthcare facility are different it is important to define the parameters of service expected. The expected parameters can be categorized into:Quality: The parameters for quality services would include:Accuracy: Accuracy is perhaps the most important quality criteria as the information in the patient record is used by healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities for several purposes like imparting healthcare, as evidence in case of litigation, coding and billing etc. It is important to communicate the minimum expected levels of accuracy and also the guidelines for quality.Turnaround time:As information in the transcripts is vital for the both the operational and commercial aspects of healthcare it is important that patient records be made available on time. The turnaround time requirements may differ according to various factors like the criticality of the situation, emergency, specialty etc. These need to be defined.Format/ template:Formats/ templates of reports could vary based on the type of report, the specialty or even the based on the preference of the healthcare professional, these need to be clearly specified.Administrative: These would include:Options to retain familiar modes of dictation:The medical transcription service provider should be in a position to allow healthcare professionals to retain their familiar modes of dictation allowing them to maximize the time available to them. And the dictation system needs to be configured to accept audio from varied sources.Upload of audio files: A utility, which enables automatic transfer of audio to the vendor, by checking at frequent pre-defined intervals, has to be configuredModes of document delivery: Once the transcripts are ready it is vital to have modes of document delivery that enables the healthcare professionals to have access of transcripts through their preferred mode. There could be variations like delivery of transcripts to specific folders, delivery to multiple users, remote printing and faxing options etcArchives: It is important that there be an archiving system which enables the healthcare professionals and support staff to retrieve old records using various search criteriaJob summary:It is important for the support staff at the healthcare facility to keep track of number of dictations uploaded, work in progress and transcripts delivered. To enable this there needs to be a provision to check on comprehensive job summary with all these details.Billing method: Reduced cost is perhaps one of the main benefit one hopes to gain from the outsourcing process. To ensure actual cost savings, it is important that the billing method used along with all the parameters used for calculating cost be clearly definedTechnological: This would include:Getting started with outsourced medical transcription services: Getting started on outsourced services could include configuring healthcare facility system with the service provider’s system, building VPN tunnels, installing software, ADT feeds etc.HIPAA / HITECH compliance: Protection of patient data during the entire process can be ensured by use of security features like 128-bit data encryption, multi-tiered application architecture, design level security safeguards, firewall protected networks, sterilized e-mail servers etc.HL7 interface: To configure the interfaces and deliver reports to EMR/EHR as HL7 messages at no additional costs.Upgrading software: Software to be upgraded automatically.Customer service channels: This step of the outsourcing process is simply establishing that the medical transcription service provider has channels of communication so that any issues that may arise during transition can be solved at once. Having open channels of communication with the service provider ensures that the healthcare professional/ healthcare facility is in a position to seek instant relief for any doubts/ problems that is faced by them during the course of transition to outsourced medical transcription services or during any subsequent stage.
medical transcription outsourcing, HL7,HIPAA,HITECH, risk managment,health information management