Offshore medical transcribing becoming more common

Domestic companies, however, get higher marks for quality.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted Dec. 31, 2009

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While more medical transcription work is being sent to India and the Philippines, where the service is less expensive, transcription companies in the U.S. receive higher ratings for service and quality, according to a report issued by KLAS, a health care vendor research firm headquartered in Orem, Utah.

According to "Transcription Services: Steady Demand in a Volatile Market," 43% of hospitals and medical clinics sent transcription work out of the country in 2009. That's up from 35% that did so in 2008.

"Times are tight, and people are very sensitive about their budgets," said Mike Smith, KLAS's general manager. "Some institutions find the cost savings are warranted."

Offshore companies charge an average of 13 cents per line of copy, while domestic ones charge an average of 15 cents.

Turnaround time between offshore and U.S. companies wasn't much different, although time zone differences can sometimes be an advantage.

"In India, they are working while you are asleep," said Lorin Bird, KLAS's operations manager.

Overseas medical transcription companies scored lower on quality because of missing words, grammatical errors, misspellings and problems understanding colloquialisms. In addition, some health care institutions hesitate to use offshore companies because of security concerns.

The report found that 44% of institutions expected dictation volume to increase because of the expected growth in patient volume and because physicians will be required to document more. But about 16% planned to use fewer outside services because more physicians are using electronic medical records and more offices are implementing speech-recognition software.

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