Delivering value to healthcare professionals requires an understanding of their needs and perspective: in a nutshell, speaking their language. They are typically looking for one of the following:
- The lowest-cost per line
- Meaningful documentation and EMR readiness
With clinical documentation, a MTSO must go beyond TAT and accuracy: it should readily consider service levels. It is not always about shorter TAT and technology. Competing on simple differentiators such as price, “quality”, and TAT puts you in jeopardy of being replaced by another low-cost provider.
Lowest-cost per line remainsthe first consideration when assessing a medical transcription organization. Like all other modes in the medical workflow, medical transcription has been lumped in with other technological initiatives to reduce costs. In this context transcriptions is always seen as the vulnerable task that can be bestowed on the shoulders of technology and the caregiver him/herself. Even all the talk about EMR and meaningful use is all driven by the promise of cost management (and bonus payments).
So this is where SRT – speech recognition technology – comes in, with its lofty promises. While the technology can accelerate the workflow process it has not put transcriptionists out of work. In fact, the discourse around SRT has forced many to recognize the essential value of the transcriptionist, even if they will in turn have to readjust and embrace a more narrow role. Again the salient considerations relating to SRT relate to accuracy, speed and cost.
The transcriptionist role may be changing, but it must remain true to the golden rule and stick to true verbatim (i. e. as dictated and not to be confused with application of standards), so invariably we are back to a cost/line. You need to have efficient feedback systems to get the physician to provide the proper descriptions. The end product is as dictated with the abbreviations and acronyms, sections and subsections, numbered lists when specified. Productivity tools (eliminating manual operations) and implementation and the feedback systems will be where you achieve the greatest economies of scale, not just by squeezing transcriptionists wages.
When offering a low-cost line, it is not cost effective to require the MT to lose productivity by performing manual formatting tasks. It is not cost effective to pay implementations staff to create custom templates.
This should translate infewest edits, higher productivity, and lowest implementation costs.
Meaningful use and EMR readiness. Meaningful use and EMR readiness goes to the core of the new role for medical transcriptionists: the work product delivered by the transcriptionist is an essential component of the greater framework known as Clinical Documentation which hinges on the value of the clinical information that is captured. Other systems depend on the quality and organization of this content ensuring interoperability, efficiency (for coding, billing, compliance, reporting) and quality (less re-work, accuracy, error-free). In this case “meaningful use” could be interpreted as “meaningful usefulness” or re-usefulness.
Customization. Customization should be clearly marked as a new line item. It is expensive and may force you to deviate from the compliance standards and will invariably impinge productivity. This remains an excellent tactic to differentiate yourself.