A guide to outsourcing for GP Practice Managers

Accuro’s Managing Director, Helen Healiss provides a useful checklist for Practice Managers who are looking to bolster their secretarial support team

Should a Practice Manager, when considering the idea of outsourcing their transcription, be driven by cost?  I would hazard a guess that most decision makers when considering a proposal to shift part of their operation ‘out’ would ask; is it cheaper?

In most cases, it possibly is, but should the first consideration be; is it better?

The easiest way to describe outsourcing digital dictation is by imagining that next door you have a room full of 400 trained medical typists that you can access whenever you want, you always get the typing back on time and it’s probably significantly cheaper than what you spend now.  If this sounds useful then it may be time to find out more about dictation outsourcing.

So, let’s analyse what better means.

Is it easy to use?

Transcription companies have developed simple and easy-to-use platforms; it’s not in their interests to make life difficult.  It’s a simple case of uploading dictations on to a secure platform.  Implementing any new process should take less than 4 hours, from the transcription company’s perspective.

Will the work be completed to a high standard?

Your output should be the same.  Most transcription businesses employ skilled medical secretaries with a great deal of experience in typing clinic letters, referrals, notes etc.  Often they will allocate the same typists to your account who will quickly become proficient at the work from your surgery.  They will also employ a skilled medical editing function who will check work before it is returned to you.  Undoubtedly there will be a few ‘speed bumps’ but with good dialogue between the transcription company and you, they will quickly become a convenient extension of your practice.

How quickly will it be done?

This will often be a pre-agreed timescale set out before work begins.  I would expect a 24-hour turnaround on all work with the ability to prioritise some work if necessary.  This means that no matter what volume you send it will be returned within 24 hours.  I would caveat this just to say that at the beginning of the account if you have a one-month backlog and send it all through in one day there may be a relaxation on return times.

Is it cost effective?

Cost is obviously a driver and has never been more important than now. You should derive some straightforward benefit from what you pay now compared to any new proposal, but a Practice should consider the intangibles or less tangibles. If any new solution reduces spend on management, HR, recruitment, hardware, furniture, IT etc., then these should be considered and contribute to the cost evaluation.

Is it secure?

Choosing an outsourced partner with credible security and systems is crucial.  You should insist on ISO27001 accreditation which is a clear indication of a commitment to the highest standards of data security.

How do surgeries use the service?

There is a whole host of different ways that dictation services benefit surgeries.  If your practice is subject to peaks and troughs of work, then using outsourcing to manage levels of typing is a sure-fire way to avoid a backlog situation. Some are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit medical secretaries and therefore increase their usage when secretaries are in short supply. Some practices utilise the service during holiday periods, some use it for their entire practice.  It is often the case that a surgery will use the service as a stop gap, avoiding acute periods but once the convenience and cost benefits begin to be realised their allocation increases. This is normally a prudent strategy as the practice can organically change from an internal to an external solution, without sudden dramatic changes to current working practices.

To summarise:

The role of medical secretaries is vital to the efficient and patient focussed running of any general practice. However, like any business or operation, the option of doing things better should be an ongoing strategy.  NHS and private hospitals have been utilising digital dictation workflow and transcription services for years and that need not be exclusive to large organisations. Outsourced businesses have designed their systems and account management functions to be simple and easy to implement, with often instant rewards. The days of medical correspondence being delayed due to a lack of resource are truly gone.

Inevitably your practice will embrace technology and benefit from a solution that is better, the question is, when?


 Check your choice has IS027001 accreditation;

  • Using a company that retains work in the UK will normally have higher quality output;
  • Ask for a demo of the system, check it fits with your hardware and process;
  • Ask for testimonials, they should be able to demonstrate experience in General Practice;
  • Size and scale. Ensure the company is equipped to deal with volume.

Accuro has more than 15 years’ experience within the UK medical transcription sector.  For a free, no obligation trial of the service call our team now on 01744 758111 or visit our website at http://www.accuro.co.uk/get-started

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