Transcription services enable hospitals to dictate the savings

by Olga Deshchenko, DOTmed News Reporter | September 30, 2010
This report originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of DOTmed Business News

At a time when health care technology is booming, facilities can take advantage of several options to help them speak-up about budget saving practices – literally.

Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Va. began using speech recognition and transcription services last year. By employing two different solutions, the facility advanced its documentation processes and trimmed costs along the way.

Speech recognition software comes in “two flavors,” explains Michael Rozmus, the hospital’s VP of information services and CIO. If physicians are using front-end technology, the words they dictate are automatically displayed, enabling users to edit and approve information immediately. If they are using back-end software, or deferred speech recognition, their dictation is converted into a written draft and passed on to a transcriptionist, who essentially becomes an editor. The transcriptionist is responsible for checking over the document.

“Both ways, it definitely saves us money,” says Rozmus. “For the ones that are doing the front-end speech recognition, [that information] isn’t going off to any background system for processing or through a background editor for review, so that cost is entirely avoided. For the physicians who are picking up the phone and using speech recognition, that editing process is much more efficient and much more cost-effective than the straight typing.”

About 96 percent of all dictated lines at Rockingham Memorial Hospital are funneled through the speech recognition software, says Rozmus. The savings prove to be significant.

“We’ve already budgeted and achieved most of our estimate for this year,” says Rozmus. “We projected $600,000 in savings in the first year and it looks like we’re going to even go beyond that.”

The hospital uses a combination of in-house and outsourced transcriptionists. Both teams use the same product to do the editing work on the submitted documents. Transcriptionists are able to get through more documents quicker because the speech recognition software alters their role. Instead of having to type the dictation from the physicians, transcriptionists just look over the drafts generated with the help of the software. Rockingham Memorial has increased the productivity of its in-house transcriptionists by about 90 percent, says Rozmus.

“We can take on more work without having to add staff. In fact, right now we’re looking at taking some of the work that was previously outsourced and bringing that in-house because this group has more capacity,” says Rozmus. “That in turn, reduces overall cost.”