The COVID-19 pandemic was a brutal shock to the medical industry. The influx of patients requiring life-saving care called for doctors and nurses to work around the clock, often forgoing rest and their own well-being to serve the community’s needs. Thankfully, that is all behind us now. Still, the pandemic has highlighted a potential weakness in the healthcare industry—having just enough of a shortage of medical professionals can topple the whole system like a house of cards.
A paper published in 2020 by the Association of American Medical Colleges noted that the shortage of doctors and other healthcare professionals is predicted to worsen, with projections reaching as high as 124,000 physicians across all medical specialties.
In this article, we’ll discuss how transcription for healthcare can help with this issue.
Doctor Shortages Aren’t A New Thing
The Spanish Flu, measles, the ZIKA virus, and the dreaded Black Death are just some of the pandemics and global health crises that highlighted just how badly we as a society depend on our healthcare professionals, no matter what level of civilization or sophistication. However, doctor shortages don’t just happen during pandemics.
A survey conducted by the Children’s Hospital Association in 2012 indicated a growing shortage of doctors and other staff. In many hospitals, for instance, position vacancies of 12 months or longer were common in children’s specialists, including vacancies in some crucial fields –neurology, general surgery, and developmental-behavioral medicine. Three out of four hospitals surveyed said the ongoing vacancies have caused long wait times for appointments, up to 7 times longer than the ideal appointment wait time (2 weeks.)
The average wait time for some of the affected children’s specialties is now 15 weeks for developmental-behavioral medicine, 11 weeks for genetics, nine weeks for neurology, eight weeks for rheumatology, eight weeks for dermatology, 7.5 weeks for adolescent psychiatry, and seven weeks for endocrinology. In addition, this has caused recruitment costs for children’s specialists to skyrocket (up 67% in the hospitals surveyed) and for salaries for these fields to increase significantly (up 55%.)
However, this is all outdated information from a decade ago. Surely, things have changed, right?
No, they have not.
“The situation won’t get better soon”
In October 2022, CNN published a piece titled “Staff shortages make patient surges harder for children’s hospitals – and the situation won’t get better soon,” stating that things are just as bad as it was 11 years ago.
“We’re extremely overwhelmed,” said Dr. Rishi Lulla in the article. “We’re doing the best that we can to try to use the resources that we have, expand where we have capacity to expand and serve the most vulnerable kids.” Dr. Lulla is the director of pediatric hematology/oncology at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.
Cushing et al. published their research on this topic in the Pediatrics Journal of the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs. The paper, titled Availability of Pediatric Inpatient Services in the United States, found that nearly a quarter of children requiring hospital admission in 2018 had to travel farther to get the care they need than those from 2009.
Children’s hospitals and congress are addressing the shortage of physicians who care for children. Several lawmakers are pushing legislation to combat this predicament, like the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2023, spearheaded by Representatives Terri Sewell and Brian Fitzpatrick and fully supported by the AAMC. In the meantime, efficiencies must be made to help these doctors see more patients in less time and keep hospital costs down.
Measures Proven To Be Effective
Several measures have already been proven to be effective. For instance, Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio employed several new methods, including implementing a more efficient scheduling process in the M.R.I. department and a new process for sterilizing surgical instruments, increasing the total number of surgeries the hospital can perform. The psychiatric inpatient unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital found that even simple changes, such as making arrangements for outpatient resources as soon as a child entered the unit instead of waiting until they were ready to leave, helped them accommodate 250 more children a year.
How Medical Transcriptionists Can Help
Doctors in the U.S. and everywhere else in the world have to deal with mounds of paperwork and medical documents daily. Charts need to be signed, prescriptions need to be written, medical histories need to be filled out, clinical documentation needs to be submitted, and operative reports need to be completed. Then, they must deal with their electronic health records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR) daily.
Utilizing automated dictation software and equipment to defer some of the work for later can help, but then having to transcribe or edit their own reports will cut into their work hours. That’s why the medical transcription process is essential to the healthcare industry. Medical transcriptionists can take over and receive the voice files and convert them into digital, formatted transcripts that can easily be integrated into any healthcare system. Transcription’s seemingly simple premise can save doctors and nurses from countless hours sitting in front of the computer, typing away instead of focusing on patient care.
Here are a few examples of how our transcription process can help healthcare workers with their workflow.
Patient documentation is necessary for all emergency room care, as information gleaned from these encounters can potentially mean life and death. Doctors and nurses, overworked as they are, still need to complete different medical reports to start the patient care process. Patient care history, current condition, medication, and other patient details and health information must be heard and taken down. Our transcriptionists can step in and take the workload off their hands, providing timely and accurate medical transcription and scribing services that require little to no corrections.
Surgical centers are no strangers to paperwork, although these are usually sidelined to focus on the immediate procedure. Surgeries range from 20-30 minutes for a complication-free appendectomy to grueling 12-hour operations, with the longest recorded surgery happening in 2001 and lasting 103 hours.
Surgeons and nurses are understandably exhausted after these operations, and it’s almost cruel to make them do documentation. Medical transcriptionists work to free up their time and allow faster and more efficient communication between team members and different medical departments involved in the procedure.
The average duration of an outpatient consultation is 30 minutes. However, wait times between patients can last up to 45 minutes to an hour. What’s causing the difference? Paperwork. Doctors employ nurses and secretaries for their outpatient clinics, but they still need to do most of the heavy lifting for paperwork, especially if it’s a new patient. Our medical scribes can help speed this up by being digitally present in the consultation room and noting the entire interaction.
Here are a few other medical documentation that transcriptionists can help with:
- Patient’s Medical History
- S.O.A.P. notes
- Consultation and Medical Notes
- Discharge Summaries
- Operative Reports
- Diagnosis and Treatment Plans
- Progress Notes
- Oncology Reports
- Board summaries
- Pre/Post-Operation Diagnoses
- Surgical Findings and Indications
- Radiology Reports
- Pathology Reports
- Laboratory Reports
- Inpatient Psychiatric Evaluations
- Rehabilitation Reports
- Progress & Follow-ups
- Narrative summaries
- And more.
Why Choose Ditto As Your HIPAA-Compliant Medical Transcription Service Provider
Ditto Transcripts is your best choice for your medical transcription needs. Here’s why:
- Every member of our medical transcriptionist team is an expert in the field. Yes, we handle transcriptions for different industries, but our transcribers are skilled in handling EHRs and EMRs, which can streamline your transcription process. We can create custom programs to push our work into your EHR/EMR fields so that patient records can be updated with a press of a button.
- We don’t use speech recognition software to transcribe medical records. AI, machine learning, and automated speech recognition might always have the “easy-to-use” tagline, but they’re inaccurate regarding transcription. These platforms and programs always stumble on medical terminology, making them liabilities rather than assets. They’re also prone to inconsistency and susceptibility to errors caused by audio issues and multiple speakers. Our company offers 100% U.S.-based human transcription services for all medical transcription projects.
- Our transcription services are 99% accurate every time, guaranteed. Medical jargon is not an issue with experienced medical transcribers, who combine excellent listening skills and years in the business to generate the most accurate transcripts. In fact, we offer editing and correction services for speech-to-text results from transcription software.
- We concentrate on results. Our services ensure rapid turnaround time and access to medical records and reports 24/7. Electronic file deliveries are done within 24 hours or less.
- We offer unlimited customer support. Do you have a question about our service? Do you need your latest transcripts customized? Give us a call or send us an email, and we’ll get right on it.
- We don’t require long-term commitments. We won’t tie you down with year-long contracts. Give us as much or as little work as you need, and we’ll take care of it with the same quality as all other projects.
- We hold data privacy in the highest regard. We are a HIPAA-compliant medical transcription service provider—something not every provider can claim. Our data security protocols ensure full protection of all your information to ensure confidentiality.
Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based medical transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable medical transcription services for hospitals, clinics, facilities, and individual practices of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial. Visit our website for more information about our medical transcription services.