Transcription Contracts

June 1, 2004

What are some of the important points to include in a contract with a transcription service?

Question: What are some of the important points to include in a contract with a transcription service?

Answer: The points that you should include are:

  • Confidentiality/HIPAA - Especially if you e-mail digital notes to the transcriptionist, how can the company ensure the security of the data? You should also have the company sign a Business Associates Agreement, per HIPAA privacy guidelines.
  • Price - Most charge by the line, but inquire about its charge for macros. For example, your physician may dictate "normal leg A," which is pre-programmed for a two- to three-line description of a normal leg, type A (the physician may have two or three statements, depending on the circumstances). If you use macros, the transcriptionist only has to type in a few keys for those lines. Negotiate your pricing with this in mind.
  • Accuracy - You'll want some guarantee of service and quality of work, or your physicians will spend more time editing their notes than they do recording them. Ask about the transcriptionist's experience with your specialty, which will help with accuracy since he'll be familiar with your specialty's medical terminology.
  • Product - How will the final product be delivered? If possible, have the company deliver it electronically with a consistent file identification. You can then set up a database of the notes to allow you to query them (for billers who need to appeal a claim denial, for example), thus building yourself a mini electronic medical record - for free.
  • Turnaround time - Specify what you expect. Twenty-four hours is standard, but transcriptionists can take much longer.
  • Penalties - Set a penalty for not meeting the standards you have set, including accuracy, delivery, and turnaround time.
  • Notice to end contract - Specify that either party can end the contract with 30 days' notice. That way, if you're dissatisfied, you can get out of the relationship fast.

Your transcriptionist is a great partner - choose carefully.