Terms and conditions – Make sure you have them in your transcription contracts
The medical field is widely known for utilizing medical transcription services, but did you know that this is not the only sector that benefits from this type of support? From legal firms and financial institutions to market research organizations and even television production companies, a wide range of enterprises and business entities use transcription services.
Of course, this is not surprising. After all, there are many advantages to using outsourced transcription services. For starters, this strategy will give you more time and energy to grow your business. It is no secret that transcription work is extremely tedious and time-consuming. By delegating this task to someone else, you or the person previously in charge of this type of work can focus on matters that can generate more profit.
Another benefit of using transcription services is that it will reduce company lead time. Transcription companies hire professionally trained and highly experienced transcriptionists who can transcribe documents accurately in just a short amount of time. With their skills and expertise, you will be able to achieve more for less time and effort.
Finally, outsourcing transcription work will help reduce the burden on your HR department; they won’t have to worry about hiring and training transcriptionists. More importantly, they won’t have to find new employees if a transcriptionist decides to leave. Again, this will give HR more time and energy to focus on other more important matters.
The Transcription Industry
While transcribing documents from audio recordings may seem like a novel concept for some, transcription as a form of documentation has been around for thousands of years. Because the human race has always enjoyed keeping records of important events and documenting its achievements, there has always been a demand for someone who is proficient at writing things down.
A Brief History
The history of transcription dates back as early as 3400 BCE. Back then, when literate people were in very short supply, kings and rulers would use scribes to record history and laws. Scribes became even more important in society with the rise of religions across the globe. In Judaic regions, for instance, scribes or sofers were in high demand because they preserved and transcribed oral traditions into written documents that would become the basis for Judaism. The Bible also mentioned their growth, with Jewish scribes trading stories with merchants, commoners and government figures to get wind of notable events.
Even with the invention of the printing press during the Renaissance, the scribes still never went out of fashion. Although this novel invention made it possible for texts to be mass-produced, the scribes were still in demand more than ever. They switched to using shorthand, which made transcribing documents much faster and easier, thereby keeping up with the changing times.
In 1867, the American Christopher Latham Sholes invented the typewriter. This helped pave the way for the growth of female scribes (throughout history, scribes were generally men). By 1910, 81% of typists in the workforce were women.
The 1980s saw the rise of computers and word processors. Despite this significant technological development, nothing much changed in the way that documents and audio recordings were transcribed until the birth and subsequent growth of the internet.
Today and Tomorrow
With the availability of more sophisticated recording devices these days, more and more people are recording video and audio content. As a result, transcription services are needed now more than ever. In fact, the Document Preparation Services industry, of which transcription companies are a part, has experienced sizable growth over the last ten years.
Data shows that, in 2019, the industry generated $5 billion in total revenue. It has grown at an annual rate of 2% over the last five years and has employed more than 100,000 people. Forecasts regarding the future of the industry remain rosy, thanks to healthcare providers, who are among the primary clients of transcription companies and the biggest source of their revenue.
Total health expenditure is expected to increase this year. According to industry experts, this growth, combined with the implementation of more stringent health record management laws, will help boost demand for medical transcription services in the near future.
The Need for a Contract between a Client and a Transcriptionist
With all the conveniences a transcription service provider can offer, it is certainly a good idea to outsource your company’s transcription tasks. However, take note that the results of this process will ultimately depend on the transcriptionist you hire. The terms and conditions stipulated in the contract, which we will discuss later in this article, can also affect the outcome.
Finding a Transcriptionist
Similar to finding a new employee for your company, you must perform due diligence before selecting a specific transcriptionist. As the transcriptionist job market is overly saturated these days, you have to make sure that you are hiring the right person or company for the job. This will ensure that you won’t waste your time and money on someone who cannot deliver the services you require.
There are several factors you need to consider before choosing a specific transcriptionist. Here are some of the most important.
1. Work quality and accuracy
Look for someone who has a solid track record of producing accurate and high-quality work. Transcriptionists with years of training and experience often supply the best work. As such, ask about their experience and methods before making a final hiring decision. You may also wish to talk to their previous employers so you will have someone who can corroborate their claims.
Make sure that the transcriptionist has a solid grasp of the Quality Assurance or QA process. In the transcription industry, QA is the process whereby a senior transcriptionist checks the work of other transcriptionists in order to correct mistakes. This helps ensure the quality and accuracy of the transcription.
2. Industry expertise and familiarity
The transcriptionist should be extremely familiar with your particular industry. This will help ensure that they understand industry-specific nuances, jargons, abbreviations, and other unique phrases you and your peers use.
While there are transcription companies that focus on a particular industry, there are others that don’t differentiate in any way. If you encounter the latter, make sure they segment their transcriptionists according to industry expertise and transcription type.
Bear in mind that cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Before choosing a transcriptionist, you should determine the standard rates. For instance, if the cost of a transcription service is $1.50 per minute, don’t settle for someone who charges less. While you can pay a little more for a faster turnaround time, it isn’t a good idea to pay someone less as there is no guarantee you will receive quality work.
4. Data security
If you have documents that contain confidential information, such as social security numbers, health records or financial data, it would be wise to opt for a service that has stringent data security protocols and technology in place. As hackers are becoming increasingly smarter nowadays, it would certainly be beneficial to find a transcription company that values data security and guards against data theft in the same way as you do.
5. Turnaround time
Determine the transcriptionist’s turnaround time so you can rest assured that the documents you require will be transcribed on time. Be wary of companies that have an open-ended schedule as this could cause potential delays. It also helps to ask whether the service provider accepts rush orders as this could come in handy in case of emergencies.
Creating a Contract with Terms and Conditions
Once you have found the transcriptionist you want to hire, the next step is to draw up a contract between the two parties. The contract is the written document that outlines the terms and conditions of the transcription work to be performed. Here are some important points to include in your written agreement.
1. Payment Terms
The cost of the transcription service must be stated clearly and in writing to prevent any hidden costs and other additional fees the transcriptionist might ask for before delivering the transcriptions to you. For the benefit of the transcription company, you should also clearly specify when and how the payment should be made.
2. Date of Delivery
The date when the completed transcriptions should be delivered to you should also be stipulated in the contract. Not only will this help prevent delays, it will also ensure that the service provider will take responsibility if the work is not completed on time.
3. Confidentiality/Non Disclosure Clause
This is perhaps one of the most important clauses to include in the contract as it will help ensure that all the information mentioned in the audio or video recordings will not be disclosed to anyone else without your consent. It also identifies who would be legally liable in the case of a data leak.
4. No Duplicates
You should make it clear that no duplicates of the audio recordings and transcriptions can be made without your permission. Ideally, the transcriptionist should delete all materials once the project has been completed. Otherwise, you will be within your rights to pursue legal action.
5. Recourse for Service Dissatisfaction
You must understand what your options are if you are dissatisfied with the quality of the transcriptions or if you are forced to terminate the service prematurely. Of course, to be fair to the service provider, you should stipulate your expectations beforehand and in writing, as well as the obligations of the transcriptionist when it comes to ensuring work quality and accuracy.
The Importance of Terms and Conditions
A written contract is essential in any business transaction. As an owner of a legitimate business, you cannot simply do everything on a handshake. By outlining the terms and conditions for the work to be carried out, you can avoid tricky situations that can ultimately cost you time and money.
How a Contract Protects Both Parties
Here’s how both the client and the transcription service provider can protect their interests by signing a contract.
1. Prevents confusion or disagreement
Instead of wondering what each party is responsible for, written terms and conditions will provide a detailed description of their respective responsibilities. Because a contract is a legally binding document, both parties are obliged to stick to their end of the bargain, thereby eliminating the possibility of any problematic misunderstandings while ensuring that the work is carried out as agreed.
2. Ensures that everyone gets their due
No one wants to get scammed after exerting a great deal of effort to complete the transcriptions on time. A contract protects the transcriptionist as it ensures that, barring any unfortunate circumstances, they will be paid on time and in full for the services they rendered.
3. Prevents expensive legal proceedings
While it is true that contracts do not completely prevent all disputes, they can at least help you avoid expensive legal proceedings in cases where the relationship between the parties goes sour. Laying out the terms and conditions encourages all sides to cooperate. Hopefully, they will then try to solve the problem rather than risk bringing the dispute to court.
If mediation fails, the contract can be used to support both parties with any legal action or with debt recovery.
4. Makes enforcement easier
A contract also makes enforcement easier if a problem does arise. For example, if the client decides to work with another transcription company midway through the project, the transcriptionist could take legal action and ask to be reimbursed for the work they have already rendered. On the other hand, if the client is not satisfied with the quality of the transcriptions, they can be protected legally against paying for the transcription service.
5. Guarantees confidentiality
With a written contract, both parties have the opportunity to study and agree to the terms of confidentiality and nondisclosure. In this day and age when valuable information can be easily stolen and used against you, this gives everyone peace of mind knowing that they are on the same page when it comes to upholding data privacy and security.
Other Advantages of Having a Contract between a Client and a Transcriptionist
A written contract serves as an official record of what both the client and the transcription company have agreed upon. It sheds light on the duties and responsibilities of each party, especially when it comes to payment and the quality of work. This gives them a better understanding of what to expect from one another while also helping to build trust and rapport.
One of the biggest advantages of having a written contract in place is that it makes the law more accessible to the client and the transcriptionist. Some businesses encounter problems with the law because they don’t fully understand it. Because a contract outlines what they could be held legally liable for, both the client and the transcription company can avoid making mistakes that could cause them to a foul of the law.
Setting out the terms and conditions of the services you require, and then putting them in writing, is the safest and surest way of protecting yourself. At the same time, it helps build trust and ensures a good working relationship between you and your chosen service provider. This is why if you want to work with high-quality transcriptionists, drawing up a contract is a must.
Kerry Gibbs is a legal expert at BEB Contracts and Legal Services. BEB provides small to medium-sized businesses with legal and contractual support.