TAT in the Medical Transcription Industry

It is very important for medical transcription services to meet the TAT requirements of clients. However accurate the transcribed file may be, it is of little use for the physician or healthcare practice if it arrives later than scheduled. The quality of vital life saving care to patients and the efficiency of hospitals and physicians therefore depend largely on the efficiency of medical transcription services.

TAT and Its Varied Interpretations

Given the current lack of standards or benchmarks regarding TAT for dictation and transcription, it is not surprising to find a wide range of definitions. Commonly, transcription TAT is considered to be the elapsed time between when a dictated record is made available for transcription and when the transcribed report is returned for authentication. However, some organizations include the time to authenticate and finalize the record (as with radiology practices) and the time to distribute the record within the scope of turnaround, and others may include varying degrees of availability, such as when a report is pending quality assurance (QA) review but has not yet been distributed.

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The varying definitions and kinds of understanding regarding turnaround times constitute a major issue when it comes to the efficiency of medical transcription. TAT is variously understood as:

  • The period from the time the file was dictated to the time it is handed back as a transcribed document to the client.
  • The period from the time the dictated file was made available to the transcriber to it being handed back for authentication or checking for quality assurance (not to the client).
  • Some transcription firms include the checking or authentication process within the turnaround time period and some others also include the time for distributing the transcribed file to the client within the turnaround period.
  • Others, though, include neither. Only the time period from the beginning of transcription to the handing over for quality assurance checks is understood as the turnaround time.

In other words, there seems to be an inconsistency in the understanding of TAT across the industry, which could cause serious issues. The chief reason for this seems to be a lack of a benchmark or yardstick for the medical transcription industry with regard to TAT.

Understanding TAT the Right Way

The correct understanding of TAT in the transcription sector is the time period from the completion of dictation of the file by the client to the handing over of the transcribed file back to the client, whatever be the medium of distribution – electronic or print.

The arrival of new EHR measures must coincide with a better understanding of TAT and the implementation of a common measure by which to judge the TAT compliance of the medical transcription service provider. Failure to do this, while harming the wellbeing of patients, the reimbursement process and overall risk management in the healthcare sector, can also have adverse effects on the transcription industry as clients will look for alternative means of transcribing important files.

Survey on Contracted TAT

According to a survey conducted among health insurance survey managers, the average contracted TAT for various kinds of documents is as follows:

  • Paper documents of history and various kinds of reports and notes – 21 hours
  • Paper discharge summaries – 40 hours
  • Paper radiology reports – 12 hours
  • Electronic documents of history and other notes and reports – 18 hours
  • Electronic discharge summaries – 35 hours
  • Electronic radiology reports – 10 hours

An efficient medical transcription company will never default on the turnaround time and, apart from fulfilling or exceeding the industry standard, would also cater to the customized TAT needs of clients.

Julie Clements

About Julie Clements

Joined the MOS team in March of 2008. Julie Clements has background in the healthcare staffing arena; as well as 6 years as Director of Sales and Marketing at a 4 star resort. Julie was instrumental in the creation of the medical record review division (and new web site); and has especially grown this division along with data conversion of all kinds.