The following is the second article in a short series on the Medical Transcription industry being posted this week in celebration of Medical Transcription Week.
Yesterday we asked “What is the future of the Medical Transcription industry in this county?” Today we’ll begin to speculate on the answer. First – some background – the Medical Transcription business is one of the most fragmented industries in the county with nearly 70% of the business being done by about 60,000 small businesses. But the traditional work available for those companies is shrinking, as physicians begin using newer technologies to capture patient notes.
There is already a great deal of attrition in the Medical Transcription (MT) industry with numerous examples of smaller MT firms being acquired by larger firms. A few weeks ago, Nuance Communications acquired one of the larger MT firms, US Based Transcend Services, in a cash deal valued at over $300 million dollars.
I spoke with Carina Edwards, the Vice President of Solutions Marketing for Nuance Healthcare about the acquisition and how Nuance Healthcare sees the market evolving.
According to Carina, Nuance views the Transcend acquisition as an opportunity to accelerate access to and expand its customer base within the small to mid-size hospital market, a market that comprises nearly 90% of hospitals in the United States.
Those hospitals are in the 100 to 250-bed range and Nuance believes the combined companies will be able to offer these hospitals a more effective path to the achievement of meaningful use as well as the transition to ICD-10.
Carina said that Transcend customers will “continue to receive the great customer care experience they’re used to from Transcend and they’ll soon be able to take advantage of other Nuance Healthcare services like Quality Analytics and MD Assist.”
While many know Nuance only for their ubiquitous Dragon Dictation Software, many, myself included, may not have know that they already have a significant medical transcription business which is a part of their overall mission to allow physicians to capture clinical data any time and on any device.
Nuance is taking a broad view of clinical data capture and providing platforms to meet physician needs. According to Carina they want make it easier for healthcare providers to “understand what has happened, codify what has happened and make it easier to use.” This view of clinical data extends well beyond the initial capture of data.
So what can the Nuance Healthcare acquisition of Transcend tell us about the future of the Medical Transcription industry beyond the idea that larger companies are acquiring smaller companies? One thing is becoming abundantly clear. The business of merely transcribing dictation from a physician will not be enough to stay in business beyond the next few years. If you’re a smaller MT company working closely with a group of physicians you’re a trusted partner to them and they can use your help with the numerous changes facing their practices.
Ask yourself how you can expand your knowledge base to help these physicians. Are you learning about the new standards for meaningful use in your spare time? Are you experimenting with Electronic Health Record systems? Can you help your clients by typing notes directly into their new EHR system? If they’re going to be using some form of speech recognition software to cut dictation costs can you help by editing the software-generated documents, clearing up the inevitable errors, and creating an accurate final document?
There is a future for the Medical Transcription business, but it will be changing much more rapidly than it has in the past. Businesses that are willing to adapt and add services should thrive as those rooted in the past continue to disappear.