The First 3 Questions to Ask When Considering a Transcription Service

Stephanie Zumwalt, CEO PEAK Transcription

We have all been told by very knowledgeable people in our lives that you get what you pay for and many of us have to find that out on our own (say by buying the mack-n-cheeeez instead of mac and cheese only to really regret that decision later when it feels like you just at the cardboard box instead of the yummy golden gooey goodness that you were used to as a kid).  When it comes to finding the right Transcription Service cheaper is definitely not always better.  There are so many companies out there it's hard to know what you are really getting when you upload your files so we have put together the top three things to consider when you go a Googlin'.

  • Are they Human?  This may seem like a ridiculous question, but if you read the fine print on a lot of Transcription Service websites you will see that part of their process is to have an automated system type what it hears (Speech Recognition Technology) and then have someone proofread the computer's typing.  Now is that really a bad thing?  Not always.  However, the mind has a way of going on auto-pilot and skimming through paragraphs seeming to read things to make sense when in fact they don't.  We have all seen those social media posts:  7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!  While our minds can do amazing things it can also cause serious harm for patients or business proposals if the proofreader misses an SRT error.  A recent article from The Joint Commission (April 27, 2015) said: "… 90 percent of all voice recognition dictations contained errors prior to physician sign off. After sign off, 35 percent of voice recognition still had errors".  Researching to find out if the one transcribing your dictation is human is not actually a silly question, but one that should be at the top of your list.
  • How Accurate is 98%?  As stated above, accuracy is the name of the game.  Your finished product is worthless if it is not accurate and can (as we said above) be harmful to the patient's health (or business) of the transcribee (you).  So how do you find out if a company is as accurate as they claim?  You ask questions.  Most accredited companies will be more than happy to discuss their Quality Assurance process with you before you decide if you want to give them the upload.  When you have this conversation, expect to be told that they either 1) Random spot-check transcriptionist accuracy, 2) After a file is typed it is forwarded to a proofreader if there were questions on intelligibility or 3) A file is previewed, sent to the appropriately trained transcriptionist, typed, and sent on for final edit and proof before it is delivered to you.  A reputable company should also offer a money back guarantee if the client is dissatisfied.  Buyer beware if you don't hear something along those lines when you are speaking to prospective Transcription Services.
  • How Knowledgeable Are Your Humans?  So we have established that they are human.  Great!  But just because they are human does not mean they are knowledgeable in the field you are dictating on.  So again, it is important to ask questions (or read the fine print).  If you are a lawyer and you need your depositions transcribed it doesn't make much sense to send it to a Medical Transcription team, just as you wouldn't send your Psychological Evaluation dictation to a Paralegal.  Making sure the Transcription Service has trained transcriptionists in your field is just as crucial to the accuracy of your document as much as Proofreading and Editing are.  Another way Transcription Services save money is by outsourcing their work overseas.  It is important to research if the prospective company sends their work off-shore because again, if you are dictating in English it doesn't make much sense to send it to India to transcribe.  It is important though, that if you are an English as a Second Language client another question to ask is "do you have any transcriptionists trained in ESL transcription?" and make sure you know if there is an added charge for that service. 


What it comes down to is you get what you pay for.  Quality transcriptionists make $.80 to $.90/minute.  If a Transcription Company is offering service under $1.00/min and they are using subcontracting or freelance transcriptionists be wary.  There may be some SRT doing the work or it may be headed overseas before it comes back to you.  There are so many choices out there when it comes to Transcription Services it will make your head spin trying to find the right fit, but if you ask some questions it will hopefully help you see the company for what they actually offer and if the company is not willing to be transparent with you, scroll to the next.