Transcription volume — So how do you count lines?

When HIM directors are thinking about outsourcing transcription, they are often asked about the volume of their work.

NEMT President Linda Allard

For directors used to in-house transcription, this can sometimes be difficult to calculate. What volume does the transcription company need, why do they need it and how do you come up with it?

The transcription company often is looking for the number of lines your facility produces and they need this estimate in order to determine how many transcriptionists to assign your account. Each of their MTs types a specific number of lines each week and they take your line estimate and divide it by what their MTs are required to type. In this way, the company can adequately staff your account.

So how do you get these numbers? Depending on your software and how your transcription is being done now you may be able to pull the lines from the software. This is the easiest way and will depend on the transcription platform; your IT department will be able to help you if you are not already counting lines this way.

If you are unable to pull your lines from your software you can get creative and find close approximations in other ways.

The first is by the voice. If your voice system tracks minutes you can convert voice to lines. The average conversion is: 1 minute of voice dictation equals 10 lines. So if you find that you have 15 hours of dictation a day, this equals 900 minutes of dictation a day or approximately 9,000 lines of transcription volume a day.

If your voice system doesn’t give you what you need you can do an approximation the manual way. Look at your report types or doctors, depending on which is easier, and come up with an average. If you need to outsource discharge summaries and operative notes, pull a sampling of them and see what the average size is. Count the lines manually – I would use 65 characters for a line – and then multiply it by the number of those reports you do in an average day.

If you’ve never done a line count, here’s a simple way to do it: Use Microsoft Word (or any other word processing program) to automatically count the number of characters and spaces in a document. Then divide the total by 65 to find out the number of lines.

For example, this paragraph contains 191 characters including spaces, and takes up 2.938 lines. The line count is calculated by dividing the total number of characters and spaces (191) by 65.

Then multiply the number of lines in a document by the number of documents to find out how many lines you have each day. So if you have 50 discharge summaries a day and you see that they average 60 lines you have an approximate volume of 3,000 lines a day.

The bottom line is that even if your systems don’t give you what you need there are many creative ways to figure out your volume.

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About Linda Allard

Linda Allard is the president of NEMT.
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One Response to Transcription volume — So how do you count lines?

  1. Celeste Johnson says:

    I have been away from transcribing for almost ten years. I have a small account now but my Microsoft system shows only a word count at the end of the document. I don’t remember how we used to convert words into lines. I know there was a formula that was an industry standard and I’m hoping you can help me

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