Outsourced transcription is a globe-spanning industry, and companies looking for professional transcriptionists will find no shortage of choices. Some providers might have an edge over the others. One of the more common considerations is the benefits of hiring an offshore or U.S.-based transcription provider. So let’s talk about it.
What Are Offshore Transcription Services?
As indicated in the name, offshore transcription providers are foreign companies offering services to different countries worldwide.
Depending on the specialization, they cater to different industries and may comprise full-time transcriptionists or freelancers. Offshore transcription companies offer a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss the former.
Outsourcing to foreign countries can be an attractive value proposition because it may be cheaper than hiring here in the U.S. The primary reason behind this is the countries where they’re located may have lower salaries or overall labor costs.
Additionally, operational costs for such companies may be lower relative to U.S-based transcription companies, which translates to cheaper service pricing models. Various sources over the internet may indicate other advantages of offshore services. However, things like their diverse specialization offerings, flexible operational hours, technological integration, and scalability are often maybe on par with — if not inferior to — what onshore transcription services offer. So, objectively, offshore providers’ only tangible advantage is being cost-effective — and that’s not always the case.
Offshore transcription may save money on having your audio transcribed, then cost you a ton of time to correct all the errors.
This is a big risk as many of these online services use non-native English speakers from overseas. When you outsource your audio transcription needs, errors, miscommunication, and misinterpretation are more likely to occur.
Benefits of Hiring U.S.-Based Transcription Companies
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U.S.-based transcription companies are service providers conducting their entire operations in the United States and hire native English speakers as transcriptionists. My company, Ditto Transcripts, is a 100% U.S.-based company, and in my experience, there are a few reasons why you should consider hiring a company like ours for your transcription needs.
Accuracy And Language Proficiency
English is a widely spoken language worldwide. Its proliferation means that offshore providers can capitalize on people speaking the language, like those in India and the Philippines. Transcriptionists from those countries can speak and understand English. Fluency and proficiency, however, are different matters entirely.
American English has many idiosyncrasies compared to plain English, which non-native transcriptionists might not know. We have different grammar, spelling, punctuation, and slang. For example, Americans pronounce thousands using hundreds, like twenty-four hundred for 2,400 or thirty-seven hundred for 3,700, or pronounce numbers quickly. These are minor issues by themselves; however, when applied to transcribing audio recordings for a business in the medical field, these small mistakes can lead to serious problems.
Unclear audio or video files can further exacerbate this issue and potentially lead to incorrect dosages when prescribing medicine if the offshore transcriptionist is working on a doctor’s dictation. Legalese — the unofficial language of lawyers and the legal industry — can be difficult even for native US transcribers. What more for offshore ones?
Accents, Dialects, and Culture
Furthermore, the United States is a large country with many different regions. Accents are so distinctive here that native transcriptionists might be able to identify where a speaker is from based on that alone. Non-native speakers, however, can’t hear the difference, and the minute differences in word choice and pronunciation may cause errors in the transcription job. Offshore companies can mitigate these errors, and they often come at the expense of turnaround time, as foreign transcribers must search the Internet to find the proper spelling of unfamiliar words.
Another point of discussion is culture. American English is regionally established yet prone to cultural changes that can potentially affect the language, and native transcribers can easily understand and incorporate those changes because they live here. These reasons make U.S.-based transcription companies employing native speakers your best choice to ensure accurate transcription and deliver quality results.
While many people prefer email to phone, there are times when you need an immediate response. There are six standard timezones in the US, which means that worst case, there is a 6-hour difference between the client and the company. This is rare, though; most of the time, communication can be addressed within the typical 9 to 5 workday. This makes it easy for companies like us to promptly respond to all customer queries. However, that might be difficult when working with a transcription provider outside the country. The different time zones make it difficult to speak with one another.
There’s also the question of turnaround time. Recorded files may be sent out from the US at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday and arrive at the offshore provider at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday. Not every offshore transcription company operates 24/7; assuming the provider works during normal business hours, they will start working on the transcribed document the next day. So that’s more time for transcription and editing — all for a task that should have been handled at the same time it was sent out. For businesses looking for quicker turnaround times, U.S.-based providers offer the most benefit.
Legal and law enforcement recordings (depositions, suspect interviews, etc.) can be used for court proceedings. For those instances, legal certification — in which the transcriber attests to the transcription’s veracity in a court of law — is required, and those transcripts can be instrumental to court cases. Not every transcription provider can certify transcripts, however. Here are the requirements for a transcriber to certify a legal transcript:
- Must be a legal US citizen and currently reside in the US,
- Must have provable experience transcribing legal proceedings and recordings,
- Must undergo a stringent criminal background check, and
- Must be willing to testify in court under oath if called upon.
U.S.-based transcription services will have no problem providing certified legal transcripts with high levels of accuracy. Offshore companies, or US based companies that use offshore transcriptionists, unfortunately, do not qualify.
Security And Regulatory Compliance
One of the main arguments against offshore outsourcing is that their security standards will not be on par with U.S. regulatory requirements. Their government’s might require different security measures, which means contractual discussions must include security and privacy clauses that both parties can agree on. These changes need to cover the transcription production process and the file transfer platform. Often, that leads to additional payment for expanded security demands. U.S. transcription service companies might have an edge in this. However, many U.S.-based providers aren’t fully compliant with government regulatory requirements, and you’re about to find out why.
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a law that details the federal standard to protect private patient healthcare information without prior consent. The law requires healthcare facilities, clinics, health insurance companies, and other medical institutions (collectively covered entities) to meet their security guidelines. The FBI’s CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services Division) serves a purpose similar to HIPAA standards, except it’s for criminal justice information. That means legal and law enforcement entities handling CJI must meet their security standards, which differ from HIPAA.
As you can imagine, compliance with HIPAA and CJIS requires elevated security measures to protect sensitive information, meaning it costs more. This is why offshore and some local providers don’t comply with these regulations. Ditto Transcripts is both HIPAA- and CJIS-compliant — something not every transcription service can claim.
Most people think that U.S.-based transcription service providers are expensive. This is not always the case. Here at Ditto, for example, most of our transcription services start at $1.50 per minute, which is affordable and competitive. With those prices, you can expect 99% accuracy, fast turnaround times, quality customer service, HIPAA- and CJIS-compliant services, the ability to certify transcripts legally, and unparalleled flexibility and customizability.
Our transcription process is not automated; all our transcribers are U.S. citizens and native English speakers with specializations in various sectors and industries. We handle transcriptions, subtitles and captions, document conversion, and translation for all types of audio files. And, we’re no strangers to handling important tasks and tight deadlines, and we ensure that our clients get high-quality results every single time.
As you can see, hiring U.S.-based transcription service providers have a wide range of benefits that make them excellent choices. Don’t think that “cheap” is the only consideration when choosing your transcription provider, not when Ditto Transcripts offers affordable services for all your audio and video transcription needs for different industries.
Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA- and CJIS-compliant, Denver, Colorado-based transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcription services to companies and agencies 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 transcription services.