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Offshore Medical Transcription Outsourcing: Pros vs. Cons of Hiring an India Based Company

Managing the day-to-day functions of a staff of medical transcribers pulls valuable resources away from a healthcare facility's main focu: providing healthcare. Many providers choose to outsource their medical transcription as a cost-effective means of preserving said resources. The goal is to find a transcription service with the latest technology, plenty of experience, and an extensive background in various medical specialties. To achieve these goals in a budget-friendly way, more and more providers are turning to offshore medical transcription services, particularly those located in India.

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Why Outsource Your Transcription to India?

Though medical transcription is a necessary component of any medical practice, performing this duty in-house is tedious at best and prohibitively expensive at worst. In addition to paying salary and benefits, employing a full-time staff capable of maintaining the workflow costs you valuable real estate and expensive equipment to maintain (and upgrade). For these reasons, many practices choose outsourcing as their solution to lower operating costs while still fulfilling a necessary task and remaining HIPAA compliant.

With the advent of digital technology, many healthcare providers now turn to offshore transcription services, with India garnering a high percentage of these providers. It's no surprise, really. The country offers a college-educated workforce that is fluent in English as well as being extremely familiar with American culture, thanks to TV, movies, books, and magazines. This familiarity means they understand American accents and even common colloquialisms, a necessary component of accurate transcription. Professional transcription providers also outfit their workforce with the latest technologies, making it simple to transfer and receive digital files.

Advantages of Outsourcing Medical Transcription to India

One of the advantages in outsourcing to India is the country's infrastructure around the industry. Its status as a premier destination for outsourcing led to the government's investment in building solid, reliable technologies and an infrastructure in support of services such as transcription and call centers.

Of course, none of that matters without qualified people to perform the work. Indian medical transcription providers offer that, as well. They provide skilled transcriptionists experienced in multiple medical disciplines, who are fluent in both English and the latest technologies. These organizations typically offer their services to large practices and hospitals as well as single-doctor clinics and other small facilities. In addition to skilled transcriptionists, Indian providers employ quality control teams who check work for accuracy, ensuring the documents you receive are of the highest quality. Most also offer a dedicated support team to work with you on ideal solutions for your facility, ensuring both parties understand needs as regards turnaround and workload expectations.

Indian transcription services also provide up-to-date security measures, including secure streaming for sharing voice files and the resulting transcribed records, as well as compliance with HIPAA guidelines specific to medical transcription. The four relevant areas are:

  • Administrative procedures
  • Physical safeguards
  • Security mechanisms
  • Security services

Before signing with any company – in India or the United States – request complete information regarding that organization's security and HIPAA compliance measures.

Finally, one of the main advantages in outsourcing to India, and the reason most practices make this choice, is the cost savings. Savings against employing an in-house team are significant, especially when compared to the total cost of full-time staff. You don't have to pay salaries, benefits, vacation and sick time, equipment purchasing and maintenance, or provide a place for them to work. That frees up resources for the services you cannot outsource.

The Disadvantages to Outsourcing Transcription Services to India

The main disadvantages to outsourcing transcription services to India are the same as when you outsource domestically (assuming you thoroughly research the company you employ to ensure you hire one that provides quality service).

The main challenge is turnaround times. If you have a need for a rush job, outsourcing presents an extra hurdle that is sometimes insurmountable. An in-house staff easily prioritizes an emergency or rush job. The 9.5 to 12.5 hour time difference between the U.S. and India (depending on where in America you are) makes communicating out-of-norm requests difficult. Basically, when you're working, they're sleeping, and vice versa.

These delays may negatively impact completing patient charts for billing and information purposes for referrals. Patients obviously receive the best care when their primary physician and specialist each have complete reports on patient history.

The distance also presents a problem if you ever encounter inaccuracies in a transcribed document, as you cannot simply walk to the transcriptionist's work area and address the issue. Revisions necessarily take longer to complete due to the time delay in communicating and resolving the issue.

Outsourcing also ties you to a contract, something you don't have with an in-house team. If your needs change, it may be difficult to adjust your agreement accordingly. You may also wish to end a contract early due to dissatisfaction with the provider's services. If possible, begin with a short-term contract that allows you to test whether the company is a good fit. You'll pay more at the outset, but it may save you in the long run, especially if you determine that the company doesn't meet your needs.

Your Bottom Line

With technology making it easier than ever to outsource medical transcription, many healthcare providers are taking advantage of the cost savings offered by India-based companies. You get quality and service comparable to that of a U.S.-based transcription service but typically pay reduced rates and significantly lower costs than performing these same services in-house. Indian transcriptionists offer skill and experience along with fluency in English and thorough training, making it an excellent choice for outsourcing your medical transcription needs.

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