So how do you really ensure accuracy in transcription?

Last week I was at a state HIM association meeting.  Standing at our booth when traffic in the exhibit hall was light, an HIM director approached.  I greeted her and she responded.  Then she paused to look at the messages on our booth.  “99.04% accuracy”, she said, “how is that possible?” 

Rick Bisson and Tara Courtland


Her question lead to a long conversation about her concerns for quality and the impact it has on patient care, physician confidence and the reputation of her department.  Clearly she was deeply affected by a lack of quality and was at wits’ end to find a solution. 

Quality was the focus of almost every conversation we shared with the association attendees.  Experienced HIM directors remember a time when accuracy was far and away better than the levels they are currently accepting.  On the front line, they were clearly frustrated and seeking a solution. 

Improving patient care is the primary driver in healthcare.  All efforts should lead to that end.  When a doctor examines a patient and dictates the results of the visit, the doctor’s intent is to capture the information in exact detail; knowing that this information will remain a part of the patient’s permanent medical record.  Any discrepancy in the accuracy of the transcription, minor or critical, could have a serious, negative impact on future treatment of the patient.

Vigilant attention on the impact we have as a transcription company on the accuracy of patient care sustains our continuous emphasis on improving the quality and accuracy of our transcription of the provider’s narrative.  Through many incentives and programs we seek constant, measurable improvement. 

Linda Sullivan, the CEO and founder of NEMT, says:

I feel that companies providing patient documentation have a responsibility beyond just doing a good job. Patient lives may literally hang in the balance. We take that notion seriously.”

That statement rings so true that we repeat it as our mantra at NEMT. It’s taped to our desks or saved as a computerized sticky note. We remember it in everything we do: “patient lives may literally hang in the balance.”

I can’t speak to how other companies handle accuracy, but at NEMT we start with a comprehensive mentoring program. New transcriptionists work one-on-one with mentors when they come on board. Even experienced MTs need help learning new account specs and a new platform so the mentors help them with every aspect of the job until they are consistently hitting their required 98% accuracy rate. After that, the mentors are available to help out as needed any time an MT needs a little extra help.

We also conduct regular accuracy audits on every account and every transcriptionist. The MTs are required to score 98% or better. Of course we also provide incentives – the MTs earn extra “accuracy pay” for hitting their marks and our account managers earn quarterly bonuses when their accounts meet their accuracy and turnaround time requirements.

On top of that, we put a premium on transparency. We publish our company-wide accuracy and turnaround time averages – our “vital statistics” — at the end of each quarter and we guarantee our accuracy and turnaround time so if we fail to hit our promised marks, we reimburse clients for the cost of the reports.

In an industry where profit depends on volume and speed, it’s easy for accuracy to fall through the cracks. For a transcription company, the trick to keeping your accuracy scores up is to first provide the training and support and then to provide the incentives at every level of the company, from the MTs to the managers to the executive team and CEO.

For an HIM director shopping for a transcription company, the trick to finding good accuracy is to ask about the process. Does the company provide comprehensive accuracy training? Do they audit their MTs? Are there incentives for good performance? Consequences for bad performance? And most importantly – will they outline the entire process for you and provide you with documentation and statistics?

Speed is vitally important but it’s in accuracy that patient lives may literally hang in the balance. We all need to take that notion seriously.

(Check out our website to view our quarterly accuracy statistics.)

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About Tara Courtland

Tara Courtland is the communications director at NEMT.
This entry was posted in Business, Operations, Sales and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to So how do you really ensure accuracy in transcription?

  1. A. M. Gullickson says:

    This phrase, “Experienced HIM directors remember a time when accuracy was far and away better than the levels they are currently accepting.” What exactly does that mean? What has contributed to the change? How is this change in accuracy quantified?

  2. Rick Bisson says:


    Thank you for your question. Here’s a little background on the inference of the statement.

    The contributing factors to this change include 1) the introduction and acceptance of overseas transcription, 2) a hospital wide pressure to reduce costs and 3) the introduction of the EMR and its impact on a free flowing narrative.

    If you’d like further clarification or you’d like to discuss this issue in greater detail, then I’d be happy to address any specific questions you have to the best of my ability.

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