EHR Benefit – Transcription Costs Savings

It’s time for the next installment in my series of posts looking at the long list of EHR benefits.

Transcription Costs Savings
When I first writing about EMR (yes, it was only called EMR at the time), this was probably the biggest reason that doctors gave for implementing an EMR in their office. Doctors looked at their transcription costs and saw EMR as a great way to replace those transcription costs. Or at least the doctors could use the transcription cost savings to pay for the EMR.

This has proven true for many doctors and no doubt was the financial mechanism that many practices used to go electronic. In fact, I always wondered if the transcription world was on a final death march thanks to EMR. My view of transcription has greatly evolved over the years. In fact, I think we’re seeing a resurgence of transcription in healthcare.

The reason for the renewed interest in transcription is because a large number of providers that start using EHR are tired and overwhelmed by the “number of clicks” that are required by an EHR. When a doctor reaches this point, there immediate reaction is “EMR is so much slower than transcription” or the related “I miss my transcription.”

I always found EMRs that facilitated transcription a little odd, but considering the above trend they might be well positioned to capitalize on those doctors who want to use transcription with their EHR. Plus, the transcription industry is shifting as well. They’re moving quickly away from just being simple transcriptionists to embracing coding and other ways to assist in the clinical documentation process. Considering the complexity of ICD-10, this might be an interesting opportunity.

What does seem clear is that doctors will be more and more interested in ways to streamline the EMR documentation process. I won’t be surprised if many doctors choose transcription as a way to accomplish this goal. Although, I’m not sure this will be the case with new doctors. Transcription has its own learning curve and I don’t see many new doctors who don’t have transcription experience going that direction.

In the end, it’s hard to really say whether transcription cost savings is an EHR benefit. In many cases it could be. Certainly the shrinking transcription industry would agree that many doctors are saving money on their transcription costs. Although, it depends on the clinic and whether they cut out their transcription when they implement their EHR. While we might see some return to transcription, I expect that long term the transcription industry will need to evolve or die as most next generation doctors won’t even consider the idea of transcription.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Yep, the vendors use that transcription savings as a big selling point.

    What they don’t say is, oh…by the way…you are now the transcriber.

    There is a reason docs use a transcription service…it saves time.

    During every implementation, I tell the doc NOT to drop transcription…at least not yet.

    Not many listen though, as that savings is tempting.

    Yet, after 6 months of typing and clicking…and missing tee times…they are generally ready to go back.

  • I agree with John, it’s never a good idea to tell the doc to give up transcription, at least at first. It also depends on the specialty. If you tell the ortho doc that he or she is going to have to give up transcription on day one, you are going to have a very unhappy camper and most likely a failed install. The design our company uses is a integrated approach using Dragon, templates and most importantly, VERY FEW CLICKS!!!! I recently saw one of our competitors system that literally took 17 clicks to send an e-prescribe! Insanity! Additionally, while the doc is using Dragon and learning it, he can talk as fast as he wants, because the voice file is being captured by our system so the transcriptionist can playback the audio and “correct”.
    To the point, however, transcription is unlikely to go away anytime soon. There are still too many reasons that it makes sense to use it.

  • Not only do I agree with John, I actually firmly believe that with the growing focus on EHR-usability, clinicians will start to push back harder to maintain the use of dictation and transcription as the preferred method of documentation. The ‘real’ reason for point-and-click is the collection of Structured Data, and presently there are few solutions to this issue, but that will change with the requirement for EHR vendors to support Consolidated CDA (Clinical Documentation Architecture) in Stage 2 MU. Then, vendors who can successfully convert a transcribed report via NLP to a C-CDA could export structured data directly into the EHR as if the problems were keyed in. It’s coming, and it will be a big WIN – WIN!

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