FAIRMONT - Transcriptionists working for the Southwest Minnesota Region of Mayo Clinic Health System will lose their positions in January, administration recently announced to staff.
Ten of 42 transcriptionists in the region work for the Fairmont facility. Nine of the 10 work from home. Effective Jan. 6, their services will be outsourced to Precyse Solutions in order to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
It's a common scenario across the country.
Administration with Mayo's Southwest Minnesota Region responded to a request for an interview with the Sentinel with a written statement, in which the decision to transfer all its transcription services to Precyse was defended "as a national trend in the health care industry. New technologies are constantly being developed that will ultimately reduce the demand for transcription services." (Currently about 40 percent of its transcription services are performed by Precyse, regional CEO Dr. Greg Kutcher wrote in an internal letter to staff.)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for transcriptionists is decreasing, despite an increase in the volume of health care services being provided. Technological advances, such as speech-recognition technology, are partly to blame. Specialized software can automatically prepare an initial draft of a report on a patient, and a transcriptionist is needed to proofread that draft and review the original recording if necessary for accuracy. From 2010 to 2020, the bureau is anticipating a 6 percent growth in the occupation, "slower than the average for all occupations."
Online, the blogosphere is afire with medical transcriptionists lamenting the fall of their once-stable, profitable careers. In the relatively short amount of time it took to earn an MT certificate, the training practically guaranteed a job with a median income of almost $40,000 a year, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Such guarantees are no more, as more and more health care providers are opting to outsource transcription services. The economic benefits for these providers are plentiful. The turnaround is usually quicker, and the costs are generally cheaper: no need to pay for wages, equipment upgrades, management, benefits, etc.
For transcriptionists living in the United States, the outsourcing trend is resulting in fewer jobs, often with lower wages. While transcription vendors located overseas are notorious for their poor pay, domestic vendors also tend to pay less than transcriptionists were traditionally paid in the past, according to frequent complaints on medical transcription forums.
Precyse is based in the United States, with corporate offices in Pennsylvania and Georgia. On its website, www.precyse.com, Precyse states it has a staff of 1,200-plus who work with more than 850 hospitals and health systems nationwide, providing various technology services, including an "integrated transcription and coding platform with advanced speech recognition."