EHR Benefit – Transcription Costs Savings

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It’s time for the next installment in my series of posts looking at the long list of EHR benefits.

Transcription Costs Savings
When I first writing about EMR (yes, it was only called EMR at the time), this was probably the biggest reason that doctors gave for implementing an EMR in their office. Doctors looked at their transcription costs and saw EMR as a great way to replace those transcription costs. Or at least the doctors could use the transcription cost savings to pay for the EMR.

This has proven true for many doctors and no doubt was the financial mechanism that many practices used to go electronic. In fact, I always wondered if the transcription world was on a final death march thanks to EMR. My view of transcription has greatly evolved over the years. In fact, I think we’re seeing a resurgence of transcription in healthcare.

The reason for the renewed interest in transcription is because a large number of providers that start using EHR are tired and overwhelmed by the “number of clicks” that are required by an EHR. When a doctor reaches this point, there immediate reaction is “EMR is so much slower than transcription” or the related “I miss my transcription.”

I always found EMRs that facilitated transcription a little odd, but considering the above trend they might be well positioned to capitalize on those doctors who want to use transcription with their EHR. Plus, the transcription industry is shifting as well. They’re moving quickly away from just being simple transcriptionists to embracing coding and other ways to assist in the clinical documentation process. Considering the complexity of ICD-10, this might be an interesting opportunity.

What does seem clear is that doctors will be more and more interested in ways to streamline the EMR documentation process. I won’t be surprised if many doctors choose transcription as a way to accomplish this goal. Although, I’m not sure this will be the case with new doctors. Transcription has its own learning curve and I don’t see many new doctors who don’t have transcription experience going that direction.

In the end, it’s hard to really say whether transcription cost savings is an EHR benefit. In many cases it could be. Certainly the shrinking transcription industry would agree that many doctors are saving money on their transcription costs. Although, it depends on the clinic and whether they cut out their transcription when they implement their EHR. While we might see some return to transcription, I expect that long term the transcription industry will need to evolve or die as most next generation doctors won’t even consider the idea of transcription.