Transcribing exam notes after a long day of seeing patients at your medical practice is a necessary part of running an office.
But in a small practice, finding someone on-site who can handle this job for you may not be practical—especially when your transcription workload changes week-to-week.
You might not have the budget to hire an on-site transcriptionist with experience in the medical field either.
The best option: Outsourcing medical transcription services.
By using the best medical transcription services, you can save some money and gain some flexibility, all while receiving the benefit of a professional transcriptionist.
The 8 Best Medical Transcription Services
- Aquity Solutions
- EHR Transcriptions
- InSync Healthcare Solutions
- World Wide Dictation
For your patient notes, you may consider using a voice to text software package that attempts to automatically transcribe your spoken word.
However, you need a human to go over the automatically generated transcription and make editing changes to make sure it’s really accurate.
Here are the eight best medical transcription services to help your practice save time and money on transcribing exam notes:
- Extremely reliable
- High level of security
- Guaranteed HIPAA compliance
- Versatile service plans
Acusis is one of the best medical transcription services out there. Not only do they give you accurate transcriptions, they’re also very popular.
In addition to reliability, this service has flexible usage options. Use the features that are right for you and don’t worry about the rest. You can upload your audio files through a traditional telephone line or through an iPhone app.
Acusis provides the highest possible levels of security, protecting your sensitive medical data all the way through the transcription chain.
- Extremely reliable transcription service
- Provides versatility in how you can use the service
- High level of security and guaranteed HIPAA compliance
- Accepts jobs where you only want editing and fact checking of transcripts you created in-house
- Pricing varies, but it has a slightly above average cost versus the industry
- At the time of this writing, there’s no support for Android smartphones in the app
- Excellent commitment to service
- Handles big workloads
- Wide range of services
- Multiple pricing plans
Aquity can handle a big volume of work with quick turnaround.
How? Simple: They have a good amount of talented transcriptionists to handle big worklaods.
They’re also one of the largest medical transcription services on the market.
For those who need the transcription service to fit into a particular budget, Aquity can help you, as it offers multiple price points, levels of accuracy, and turnaround times.
- Able to handle huge volumes of work
- Has a strong track record of excellent service
- Multiple pricing level choices
- Is able to connect and work through many different EMR/EHR systems
- Requires a 1-year contract and minimum levels of work
- Doesn’t reveal the encryption security levels it uses (but it does meet HIPAA guidelines)
- Extremely easy to use
- Based 100% in the USA
- High encryption standards
- Test drive with a free trial
EHR provides one of the easiest medical transcription services to access and use, so medical personnel who want to keep things simple will appreciate it. However, it must sacrifice advanced customization features to maintain an easy-to-use interface, so it’s not the best option for those who have advanced needs for their transcripts.
EHR does provide an excellent level of accuracy and file security, so you can trust the service you’ll receive.
- Offers a free trial period
- Extremely easy to use
- Based fully in the United States
- One of the highest encryption standards at 528-bit
- Not the most complex transcription service available
- Lacks support for the Android mobile platform
InSync Healthcare Solutions
- Fast and accurate
- Multiple upload options
- Includes a mobile app
- Very competitive pricing
The InSync service is one of the best medical transcription services out there.
They offer excellent service, well-rounded features, and multiple add-on options. Customize the offering to match your medical practice’s needs.
InSync even allows audio uploads using whatever method makes it easy for clients, including telephone, digital file, or mobile app.
- Strong levels of accuracy and turnaround time
- Favorable price point versus others
- Offers compatibility with many EMR/EHR services
- Includes a mobile app to upload your audio
- Doesn’t use the strongest encryption available (but still meets HIPAA guidelines)
- Only offers two layers of quality assurance
- Extremely fast service
- Flat rate pricing
- Double data center protection
- Decent quality control
If you need extremely fast turnaround times on your audio files, Med-Scribe has one of the fastest guarantees at less than an hour. As an added bonus, this service does not charge extra when you need to take advantage of its fastest turnaround times.
Unfortunately, Med-Scribe has some above average setup fees for the majority of new clients, unless they commit to providing a high level of work. Its overall pricing is also above average versus other services, so unless you need extremely fast results, this service probably is overkill for you.
- Extremely fast turnaround times
- Uses a flat rate pricing method that’s easy to understand
- Maintains two data centers to protect your files from accidental loss
- Offers compatibility with dozens of EMR/EHR systems
- Higher fees than others
- Doesn’t audit the transcripts with as many levels of quality control as some other services
- Works with other MTBC products
- No contract required
- Discounts for existing customers
- Multiple transcript formats
If you are a customer of the MTBC practice management software or the MTBC EMR software, you will receive a significant discount in pricing with the MTBC medical transcription service. This discount can reduce your cost to about half the average cost of these services from other providers, which is impressive.
For those who don’t use other MTBC products, you can use the MTBC transcription service at the regular price rate. This service requires no contracts, but it also doesn’t provide a lot of information about how it achieves its projected accuracy rate.
- Great service for those who use MTBC products already
- No contract required
- Made for medical practices that have varying levels of work to provide
- Offers to submit transcripts to you in a few different ways
- Transcription clearly is not the company’s primary focus
- Doesn’t offer a lot of high-end versatility in its offerings
Clients of SmartMD appreciate the service’s flexibility in pricing and in its offerings. One of our favorite services that SmartMD offers is an online archive of your transcriptions in a secure cloud account, so you can access them from anywhere and at any time. You will have to pay a little extra for these cloud storage services.
SmartMD uses a workforce of American-based transcriptionists, which gives it a higher level of accuracy than some other services that rely on transcriptionists where English is not their first language.
- Plenty of versatility for clients
- Completely American-based
- Has a wide range of medical practice software features that you may also want to use
- Gives you a free trial option
- Offers a mobile app, but its interface needs to be better
- Reasonable overall pricing, but extra costs for some of the add-on features
World Wide Dictation
- Plans with maximum flexibility
- No long term contracts
- 256-bit encryption
- Free trial available
If your medical practice needs maximum flexibility from a transcription service, World Wide Dictation excels in this area. You do not have to commit to contracts, and you can provide varying levels of work for the company without penalty.
Even though World Wide Dictation offers transcription services for multiple types of industries, when it takes on a medical practice as a client, it guarantees that you will receive a dedicated medical transcriptionist for your work.
- Offers a free trial period
- Does not require long term contracts
- Multiple methods for submitting audio, including a mobile app
- Gives you 256-bit encryption
- Will work with your EMR/EHR software, but you have to pay extra
- Turnaround times are not as fast as some others
How to Choose The Best Medical Transcription Service For You
When you’re in the market for the best medical transcription service, you will want to pay attention to a number of features these services offer. Because of the expense involved in this type of work, you want to be absolutely certain the transcription service’s offerings truly match what your medical office needs, so you aren’t paying for services you won’t use.
HIPAA, short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a set of regulations health care providers must follow for protecting the medical information of their patients. Failure to abide by these regulations results in significant fines and penalties.
If you are using a best medical transcription service, and this service will be transcribing notes regarding patient care, it is vital that the service is able to protect this information, while following all HIPAA guidelines.
For services based in the United States, HIPAA compatibility should be easy to find. But for services located outside the United States, finding those that follow HIPAA guidelines may be more difficult.
Understand that some services will have American addresses, but they may use transcriptionists based in other parts of the world. The transcription service needs to spell out exactly how it protects this sensitive health information in a case like this, while following HIPAA guidelines and protecting your medical office from potential violations.
Software System Compatibility
When you have EMR or EHR software in use at your medical practice, you’ll be using this software to store your patient records. To simplify the process of keeping your records organized and safe, you’ll want to link the transcription to the correct patient record.
Some medical transcription services will offer compatibility with numerous EMR/EHR software packages, allowing them to transfer the transcription files into your software, linking them to the right patient. This will save your staff from having to organize the transcription files once they arrive from the transcription service, giving them more time to handle other tasks.
Audio File Compatibility
When recording patient notes, the medical personnel in your practice probably have a certain system they like to use. Depending on the preferences of the doctors in your practice, you may use multiple audio file formats.
Any medical transcription service you select must be able to handle whatever audio file formats you want to use. This should be a relatively easy process, as the majority of medical transcription services will handle many file formats. However, if your medical practice uses an uncommon audio file format, you may have to search around to find a compatible service.
Some medical transcription services allow you to record your patient notes directly through a telephone call to the service, which some doctors prefer.
Medical transcription services will use a term called TAT, which is short for turnaround time. This refers to the amount of time it will take the service to deliver your transcription after it receives the audio file.
The majority of services require a day or two, but they may offer “rush” jobs, where they can return the transcript within an hour or two, usually for a higher cost. Some services allow you to select the exact TAT you want to use. Some services even promise to turn around the audio files you send at 6 p.m. by 6 a.m. the following day.
When you have particular needs for TAT, you may need to shop around to find the service that will offer what you require at the price you’re seeking.
Any medical transcription service needs to have multiple layers of quality checks in place to ensure accuracy. You need an accurate transcript, or you run the risk of making a mistake in treating a patient by having inaccurate information in the patient’s file.
Some transcription services will let you select what level of accuracy you would like to have, as more layers of fact checking and editing will cost more than one or two levels of editing. Be wary of any service that says it can guarantee 98% to 100% accuracy with just one level of fact checking. Most services will offer a minimum of three levels.
Matching Your Specialized Terminology
If your medical practice frequently uses non-standard terminology during the care of your patients, or if you have a particular specialty that you emphasize in your practice, the medical transcription service you select must be able to accurately handle it. The transcriptionists must recognize the uncommon terms you’re using and be able to spell them correctly.
Many of the best medical transcription services will include particular specialty area endorsements in their marketing materials. Pay attention to these when shopping for a service.
Medical transcription services will charge for their work in a variety of ways, including:
- By the length of the audio in minutes.
- By the number of lines in the transcript (usually 65 characters per line).
- By the number of characters in the transcript.
- By the number of words in the transcript.
This can be extremely confusing, especially when you’re trying to compare the fees of various services who don’t use the same method of charging you. It’s hard to compare one service that charges by the minute to one that charges by the character.
Additionally, some services that charge by the character will charge you for spaces between words, while others will not. Services that do not charge for spaces base their fees on VBCs (visible black characters).
You may have to pay extra if you have a particularly difficult or unusual type of medical terminology in the exam notes that you need transcribed.
With some medical transcription services, you can just submit jobs whenever you want with no contract required. However, for the best level of service, you probably will want to sign a contract. With a contract in hand, you will be a priority for the service. Without a contract, you may find that your jobs are not a priority.
Additionally, with a contract in hand, you can specify that you need a certain level of accuracy and a certain TAT. Without a contract, you may receive verbal promises about accuracy and TAT, but the transcription service has no consequences for failing to meet its promises. With a written contract, there is a clear outline of the potential penalties for missing promised levels of performance.
Some services offer month to month contracts, while others require a 12-month contract. Some offer other lengths of contracts. Don’t be afraid to request a certain contract length, as this is an area transcription services often will bargain with you.
If you have an issue with your transcript, you want to be able to contact the transcription service immediately and have the problem resolved. Some services are only open during normal business hours, while others provide around-the-clock service.
Additionally, some services have phone, email, or direct messaging customer service options. Others may limit you to one type of communication.
Look for a customer service option that matches how you want to use the service.
Summary: Putting the Best Medical Transcription Service to Work
Having accurate patient notes, as generated with a medical transcription service, will create a cost to your practice.
But you’ll receive significant benefits with these patient notes, including allowing your medical professionals to work more efficiently. By having highly accurate previous exam notes in the patient file, doctors and nurses will have the information they need at hand without having to take extra time to search for information from past exams, creating efficiency.
A more efficient office can see more patients during the day, resulting in an improved bottom line. We can’t guarantee using the best medical transcription service will pay for itself over time, but it’s also hard to put a financial benefit on the efficiency you’ll gain.