Dictation Turnaround

April 1, 2005

Are there any published statistics on the average turnaround time for postoperative reports for orthopedics? Some of our physicians turn them in on the same day, some almost a month later.

Question: Are there any published statistics on the average turnaround time for postoperative reports for orthopedics? Some of our physicians turn them in on the same day, some almost a month later.

Answer: We don't know of any published data. An informal survey of orthopedic practices says the norm is 24-48 hours from service to dictation.

If you want more official numbers, you could ask your transcription company - if you have one - if it can run a report showing the difference between date of service and date of submission to the transcriptionist for all orthopedic practices it serves.

However, allow me to suggest that it may be a moot point. I assume that your goal is to speed things up? If you throw benchmarks at your docs their reaction is likely to be to dither about the accuracy of the benchmark, complain about their schedule, or some other such thing. They won't by themselves change behavior.

What will? Money.

Institute a fine for anything more than, say, two days. Or if your compensation is production based at all, then don't process payment to them until the documentation is in and the claim is submitted. No ticket, no laundry.

Of course, you should make sure it's convenient for your surgeons to do their dictation. A physician who has scheduled time for it after each visit or surgery is more apt to get it done. Set up dictation pods on site that give physicians some privacy to do their reports without taking them completely off the floor. Give them handheld phones, recorders, or some other such mobile devices to dictate into.

Remember, this is not only a billing issue; it's a risk management issue for you. The longer physicians wait to do their dictation, the harder it is for them to remember all the important clinical details. It's important to take delays seriously.