Is Medical Transcription Worth It?
With so many medical documentation solutions available, it can be hard to figure out which ones are worth it. To figure out if medical transcription is worth it, healthcare professionals must consider affordability, reliability, security, and ability — how well does medical transcription address these needs, and does it actually reduce the clinical documentation load by an amount that is worth the investment? This week we address all these questions and help healthcare professionals decide if medical transcription is worth it.
Is Medical Transcription Worth It?
If you’re trying to figure out if hiring a medical transcriptionist is a worthwhile investment for your practice, look no further. In this article we’re going to break down all the elements to help you decide if medical transcription is worth it.
What is Medical Transcription?
To understand the pros and cons of medical transcription, we first have to understand what medical transcription is. Medical transcription is the process a certified medical transcriptionist goes through to convert a provider's dictated patient encounter into a completed medical document or SOAP note. What is often misunderstood about medical transcription is that it almost always requires some level of dictation to be completed.
Most commonly, this dictation happens in one of two ways, either in the immediate presence of the patient during a visit, or in the post-visit setting, after a patient leaves.
Dictating During a Patient Visit
Dictating during a patient visit is the preferred method for many care providers who choose to use medical transcription. Using this method, a provider will dictate medical information into a recording device in real time, then send the recording to a medical transcriptionist after the patient leaves the exam room.
Studies have found that dictating in front of a patient can increase positive health outcomes, care transparency, and overall patient satisfaction, but some providers find the method to be disruptive and clunky. The nature of dictating during a patient visit means providers are often interrupting their patient to dictate or asking them to pause, making the interpersonal relationship with the patient and provider feel strained and unnatural.
Dictating After a Patient Visit
While not the dictation method that many thought leaders and industry professionals recommend, many care providers opt for post-visit dictation as a way of preserving the humanity of their visits. Using this method, a provider will often take handwritten notes during a patient encounter, and then dictate the important medical information into a recording device after the patient leaves. The provider will then send that secure recording to their medical transcriptionist, who will transcribe it and get it back to them as soon as possible.
Now that we have a better understanding of how medical transcription relies on dictation, and the different dictation methods, let’s dive into the pros and cons of hiring a medical transcriptionist and discuss if medical transcription is worth it.
Reduced Documentation Time
Perhaps the biggest, most obvious benefit of medical transcription is that it can help physicians reduce their documentation time. Because care providers can simply send their dictated report to a medical transcriptionist, they don’t have to be as involved in the actual production of the medical note. The best medical transcriptionists will take into account physician templating preferences to help produce a near-complete SOAP note and even sometimes integrate that note into the provider’s EHR, giving providers a huge lift on their medical documentation.
Focus on Patient
While the dictation method a physician uses to complete their transcription ultimately impacts how much face-time they can engage in, and how intently focused they can be, the fact is using medical transcription (and dictation) generally allows providers to engage more with their patients. Choosing medical transcription often means less time on the computer and writing notes during the patient visit.
Recommended Reading: Pros and Cons of Medical Transcription Companies
Reduced Functional Creep
One of the well-discussed pitfalls of traditional medical scribes is that they can sometimes engage in the harmful practice of “functional creep.” Functional creep is the unintentional way trusted scribes begin to take on responsibilities outside the scope of their job, and engage in tasks that can put a physician at risk of malpractice. While medical transcription doesn’t provide the same documentation relief as a scribe, choosing to use medical transcription makes a physician almost completely immune to functional creep related malpractice risk.
For providers who are worried about the security of sensitive patient information, almost all medical transcription companies ensure some level of HIPAA compliance. This reassurance should let providers feel more at ease when transmitting sensitive patient data across channels.
Many of the upsides that make medical transcription an attractive medical documentation solution for healthcare professionals are some of the same factors that turn physicians off to medical transcription.
While medical transcription can reduce the amount of time physicians spend on their medical documentation, many transcription companies have difficulty returning completed to physicians in a timely manner. It can sometimes take as many as three days for physicians to receive their completed documentation. Even still, care providers need to review the note, and many times must patch certain holes in the documentation, and sometimes even finish integrating it into their EHR. While some transcription companies ensure faster turnaround times, physicians almost always have to pay extra for the expedited service.
Data Transmission Security & HIPAA Compliance
While many medical transcription companies ensure 100% HIPAA compliance, it is important for any provider considering hiring a medical transcriptionist to understand that HIPAA enforcement on transcription entities overseas can be uncertain. This means that if a provider employs a transcription company that offshores its labor, the provider may still be held responsible in the event of a PHI data breach, even if they are not responsible for the breach itself.
A 2020 New Jersey ruling held a medical organization responsible for a medical transcription related data breach that affected over 1,500 U.S. patients, citing a failure of the health organization to perform an adequate risk assessment. While HIPAA does normally hold “data holders” responsible for data breaches, the ability to enforce these regulations becomes exponentially more difficult when dealing with third party organizations, especially those overseas. This is perhaps the biggest reason to avoid using a medical transcription company, specifically those that offshore their labor.
Medical Transcription Alternatives — The Solution Provider's Deserve
Providers who are wondering if medical transcription is worth it, or whether or not it’s the right solution for their practice need to zoom out and examine the problem of medical documentation from a bird’s eye view. What providers need is a documentation solution that is affordable, reliable, secure, and actually helps reduce their documentation time. While transcription does indeed work for some providers, it’s just a band-aid solution to a larger issue, and is not the all-encompassing solution that they deserve.
What physicians deserve is an all-encompassing medical documentation solution. Providers need a device that can listen in on a patient encounter, extract the medically relevant information without dictation, produce a high-fidelity transcript, and then convert that transcript into a completed note that integrates with their EHR — all without any major involvement on their behalf.
That solution is what we’re offering. Learn more today.