Chester & Cheshire

Medical Transcription Services Costs

If you are a practice manager for a GP surgery, ensuring that your practice gets the most for its money when outsourcing medical transcription is probably a top concern. So, when transcription services shout about being able to save your practice money, you can be left with some niggling doubts about their authenticity. 

Here are some of the elements of cost you need to consider before outsourcing your medical transcription to an external transcription service. The elements surrounding costs are:

  1. How transcription services charge

  2. Comparison to the cost of permanently hiring a secretary

  3. Comparison to the cost of temporarily hiring a secretary

  4. The hidden costs of transcription

  5. Costs of data security and breaches

How Transcription Services Charge

There are two ways in which a transcription service provider charges for their service. The first charging model is based on a fee per minute of dictation. The alternative is to charge a rate per line of typed text. It is usual to find that companies based in the UK adopt the fee per minute of dictation model and transcription providers who send the work offshore lean towards the rate per line of transcribed text. 

The overriding benefit of the fee per minute of dictation model is transparency, as the cost of a document can be worked out before it is sent to the transcription company. In comparison, practices working with a provider who charges by the line will not be able to budget in advance as prices only are only available post-transcription.

Comparison to the Cost of Permanently Hiring a Secretary

Recruitment in the healthcare sector is not only a long-winded time-consuming process, it can be a budgeting nightmare. For example, to hire a medical secretary in London will cost a practice roughly £24,500. Bearing in mind, a medical secretary typically spends 50% of their working day typing and an average-sized GP practice will have three full-time secretaries. The total cost to a practice of typing therefore can be £36,750 per annum.

The other consideration, aside from the monetary cost, is the time required by other members of staff to interview, hire and train a new member of staff to work at the level expected. An outsourced transcription provider will already be working at this expected level from day one.

Comparison to the Cost of Temporarily Hiring a Secretary

Hiring a temporary medical secretary to cover staff absences or peaks in workflow is rarely a straightforward process.  Often practices have to work with more than one recruitment agency to source candidates who may then secure permanent work elsewhere without fulfilling the assignment.

Secretaries within a GP practice juggle a range of duties while trying to keep on top of the typing list. They need to answer the phone, liaise with doctors and other healthcare providers and deal with patient queries and appointments. On average, because of the interruption to typing time, a medical secretary will get through 15 minutes of dictation each hour they work.  It is easy to see how easily a backlog of typing can occur when a surgery is busy.  Transcribers working for a transcription provider work in an uninterrupted environment which allows their productivity to create an average saving of 40% in comparison to the cost of the locum secretary.

The Hidden Costs of Transcription

Be extra vigilant about hidden costs when sourcing a transcription provider, such as:

  • Set-up costs can be charged – look for free set up

  • Software costs – ensure the software is free

  • Rate per minute changes – some companies offer a low rate, but this can be for up to a week turnaround time and charge a premium for 24-hour turnaround

  • Cost of offshoring – ensure your work isn’t being sent offshore

Costs of Data Security and Breaches

One of the most important considerations is where the transcription provider is sending data to, and what are they doing to ensure its security? A transcription provider offering a price that seems too good to be true is likely to be using an offshore resource to produce the documents.  However, a UK service doesn’t necessarily cost more when you factor in the quality of the document being produced.  A letter that comes back from the transcription company full of errors because it has been produced offshore will need to be corrected and edited either by the practice secretary or the GP, making the end price of the document production actually higher than the UK transcription service provider.

UK based transcription companies will also have to adhere to strict GDPR standards when it comes to securing your patient data.  It is the responsibility of the practice (as data controller) to ensure their chosen provider has all the relevant security practices and policies in place.  Failure to do so leading to a data breach can be damaging and expensive and have a real impact on the lives of the data subjects involved.  

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