Can Outsourced Medical Transcriptionists Hack it?
Students in medical transcription classes should be aware of a growing trend in the healthcare industry: the outsourcing of medical transcription to companies hiring freelancers to complete the work. This news is exciting for the potential of finding work in non-traditional markets for medical transcription. However, students must be informed of issues in the freelance medical transcription world to avoid working for a company that takes advantage of them.
In May 2012, 13 employees of Transcend Services, a Georgia-based medical transcription outsourcing firm aiding North Carolina health care provider Novant Health, took out a class-action lawsuit against their employer. The lawsuit, reported in the Winston-Salem Journal, accuses Transcend Services of not offering at least the minimum wage level of $7.25 per hour for work rendered or any overtime compensation. When Novant employed their medical transcriptionists directly before March 2012, workers were paid from $14 per hour to $16 per hour.
This dramatic cut in pay for services rendered is one of the main reasons why hospitals and other medical institutions are rapidly adopting the practice. It also streamlines operations at these businesses as medical transcription becomes a service rendered by independent contractors instead of an in-house operation requiring oversight, space and technology. Paying for cheap outsourced medical transcription is also a top choice where low staff levels usually mean that the time-consuming work of medical transcription becomes the doctor’s responsibility.
British hospitals paying for outsourced medical transcription are reporting huge financial returns. A plan by a network of hospitals in Leicester to outsource their medical transcription work to India employers was expected to result in about 500,000 pounds saved over paying in-house transcriptionists or doctors to perform the work, according to a May 2012 report in The Economic Times. Critics of the move say that medical secretaries will be the most affected and stand to lose the most money.
As the practice of outsourcing medical transcription becomes standard, companies are starting to charge more for services rendered. Although it doesn’t necessarily lead directly to higher freelancer salaries, increased revenues for these companies may have a trickle-down effect someday. In Canada, costs for medical transcription outsourcing in Vancouver and the surrounding Lower Mainland region rose quickly, from $2.4 million in 2008 to an expected $6 million in 2012, according to a press release from the Hospital Employees’ Union.
The important clerical work of medical transcription is always going to be in high demand by medical institutions. Medical transcription professionals need to do their homework before taking a job that may be more work than they can afford.