If you’ve considered using a transcription company, you’ve probably realized there are a lot of options. For instance, some transcription buyers use automated transcription services where audio files are transcribed into draft documents by computers. Other buyers prefer that a human transcribe their audio files to improve accuracy. Additionally, there are options to have your speech to text transcription project completed locally, nationally, or internationally. Likewise, there are various turnaround and pricing options to think through. With so many possibilities, where do you begin? In this article, we’ll touch upon some of the most essential items to consider to help you make a qualified buying decision.
1. What are your security requirements? If you need to comply with CJIS or HIPAA, you’ll need to make sure the transcription provider is CJIS compliant or willing to sign a BAA. Steep penalties have been levied on organizations that have taken shortcuts with keeping sensitive data secure. Likewise, what insurance does the transcription company carry in case of a cyberattack or data breach? Not all transcription companies have the same security capabilities or infrastructure, so be sure to ask.
2. How does the transcription company ensure quality? Are you going to send the completed transcripts to an insurance company or use them in a court case or rely on them for research purposes? If you are, quality is a critical concern. Will the transcription company perform any quality assurance on the documents before they’re returned to you or will you need to carefully review drafts and make edits yourself? Ask the transcription company about their QA philosophy and methodology.
3. What software does the transcription company offer? Does the transcription service have an infrastructure in place for you to easily send audio files to them and monitor the progress of your recordings as they are converted into transcripts? Do they offer mobile apps and options for dictating by phone or digital recorder? How long will they store your transcripts, and can you access them online securely? These added conveniences can add tremendous value, so be sure to ask for a demonstration.
4. Who will transcribe your audio files? Is the work produced in the United States or internationally? What are the qualifications of the transcriptionists or the track record of the transcription company’s speech recognition software? What formal training and experience does the transcription company require of its staff? Does the transcription company run background checks on its employees? The qualifications of the production staff and technology will impact the quality of the speech to text output.
5. What support options are available? When you need help using the transcription company’s software, what ways can you get support? Can the transcription company be called and emailed? Do they have a ticketing system that lets you track the status of any pending issues from their origination to resolution? Do they offer remote web support? What about on-site support at your location? Is the support 24/7 or limited to other hours? Be sure to factor time zone differences that can impact availability too.
6. What turnaround time options are available? Will your transcripts be returned the same day, the next day or weeks later? Can you monitor the progress of the audio files you’ve sent the transcription provider from the moment you’ve uploaded them until they’re completed? Are you able to flag audio files as priority jobs, so you get them back more quickly than others? What if you need transcripts generated on weekends or holidays?
7. How will you be billed for transcripts? Will you be charged by the minute, by the word, by the page, by the character or by some other metric? If the transcription company charges you by line, is it a gross line or a per-character line? If it’s a per-character line, how many characters are in a line? Likewise, what constitutes a character? Make sure you are comparing apples to apples because the same per-line rate is not necessarily the same overall document cost among companies.
8. Does the transcription company offer a free trial? Are you able to try the service for free, without committing, before you become a formal client? Will the speech to text transcription provider give you a test drive so you can see precisely how everything works and if it suits your needs adequately? What about references? Does the speech to text transcription company have clients willing to vouch for their work? If a term contract is required, learn as much as you can before you sign.
9. How flexible is the transcription service? Will the transcription company use your templates or create new templates to fit your precise needs? Or, do they use the same generic template for every client? Likewise, can the speech to text service interface with your EHR or document management system. If they can’t you may need to manually import or copy-and-paste completed transcripts into your computer system. Remember, manual work and extra time spent on your part can diminish the actual value of the transcription service.
While all transcription companies have processes for converting speech to text, the methodology can vary widely. The differences in capabilities between transcription businesses can mean wide-ranging variances in cost, quality, security, and timeliness. For a no-cost, no-pressure consultation, we invite you to contact Athreon transcription at 800.935.0973.