Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Medical Transcription: Employing Six Sigma Principle to Reduce TAT and Improve Quality

The medical observations of patient are dictated into a voice recorder and transmitted to the transcription service provider. The transcribed report, an electronic file, is then sent back to the hospital records for digital signature. The total time taken is known as turn around time. The HIPAA compliant audit generally includes the following trail of activities to measure the turn around time.

  • Recording time- time taken towards reading the report into the recording instrument
  • Transcription time - time taken by transcriptionist to convert the dictation into the computer text file.
  • Quality audit time- time taken towards removing errors in the transcribed report before its dispatch back to the hospital or the physician.
  • Electronic signature- time taken towards verification by the concerned physician
  • Distribution time- time taken towards initiation of the reports towards faxing, emailing, etc

Turn around time or TAT as it is known plays a decisive role in the success or the failure of the service provider to win the outsourcing contract from the hospital or the physician. Generally the turnaround time differs for different providers. A TAT of 48 hours is counted as high while a turn around time of 4 to 24 hours is preferred. The turn around time varies with type of medical reports transcribed. A short TAT is highly desirable by the hospitals as it enables them to provide faster treatment to the patients.

The voice quality of the file may not be proper and it requires the transcriptionist to spend more time to grasp it or there might be errors while converting the voice into electronic text. This reduces the overall efficiency of transcription process and can seriously affect the health of patient due to errors.

This is where the Six Sigma can play a pivotal role in by eliminating the recurrent errors, which inhibit the productivity of the process. It is basically a quality control program that consists of the management and technical strategies. The management aspect of the strategy sees to fact that all the set goals are realized successfully and that the success is sustained over a period of time. The technical part of the program ensures that process is analyzed sharply and all the bumps or shortcomings are effectively removed by adopting a strategy that measures, analyzes, improves and controls the quality of the medical transcription process.

Medical transcription involves daily conversion of data on a voluminous scale hence it very difficult to keep track on each and every mistake committed in spite of well trained transcriptionists and a quality control department. Looking minutely into each and every mistake is not possible as it slows down the whole process and hinders the timely dispatch of the transcribed reports back to the physician.

The Six Sigma provides solution to this problem by creating an inbuilt safety mechanism in the transcription process, which automatically filters out errors like poor voice quality and data capture, spelling and grammar mistakes, wrong terminology, etc. Thus Six Sigma irons outs all the shortcomings from the transcription process so that the final output is free of errors and is available to the end user in a shorter turnaround time.

Six Sigma governs the productivity and quality of transcription process.

Jason Gaya

Read more on medical transcription at, www.mediscribes.com