If you’re an HIM professional responsible for a medical transcription contract, review it closely to be sure you are being billed by the same unit of measurement you discussed during negotiations.
The two most common pricing definitions follow. Keep in mind that even within these definitions, some vendors charge for formatting (bold, italics and underlines) and some do not. Make sure your contract is clear and specific!
* Transcription unit measurements
65-Character Line: Under the 65-character line standard, characters include all letters, numbers, symbols, and formatting codes to maintain and reproduce a document, counting the space bar, shift key, bold, underscore, and other keystrokes. A 65-character line is calculated by counting all defined characters and keystrokes and simply dividing the total number of characters by 65 to arrive at the number of defined lines. Characters appearing in the headers and footers may also be counted.
Visible Black Character: A visible black character is defined as any printed letter, number, symbol, and/or punctuation mark excluding any/all formatting (e.g., bold, underline, italics, table structure, or formatting codes). All visible black characters can be seen with the naked eye as a mark regardless of whether viewed electronically or on a printed page.
Other units of measurements include gross line, gross report, and per-minute pricing. Limitations to these methods have made them unpopular and undesirable.* American Health Information Management Association and Medical Transcription Industry Association, A Standard Unit of Measure for Transcribed Reports, http://library.ahima.org/xpedio/groups/public/documents/ahima/bok1_034023.html (February 2007)