B.C.’s medical record transcription outsourced

The B.C. Liberals’ health care budget slashing means more services for British Columbians are being outsourced.

To the editor:

The B.C. Liberals’ health care budget slashing means more and more services for British Columbians are being consolidated under the leadership of one health authority, and in that agenda, outsourcing plays a major role.

Outsourcing not only impacts the employees, who have lost their jobs, but also impacts patient care in the community.

Contracting out has affected many areas of the health care industry, most recently in medical records. (Patient Data Violations Alert Explained in Letter, Jan. 29 Capital News.)

Every patient in this province who is treated by a physician or clinic, has procedures, surgeries or diagnostic testing performed, and any hospital will have a medical report to describe the physician’s findings, medications given and treatment recommendations.

These visits are then voice recorded by the physician, and then accurately converted into medical documents by the medical transcriptionist (MT).

Medical transcriptionists are highly skilled and trained with an ability to decipher foreign accents and are equipped with an extensive knowledge of medical terminology, pharmacology and various medical procedures.

These transcribed medical documents remain in the patient’s personal health record alongside their respective laboratory tests.

The Lower Mainland Health Information Management (LMHIM) has 130 hospital-trained employees in the Medical Transcription Services department working in three satellite hubs. Due to the health authority’s zealous ambition to outsource, these in-house MTs have been given termination letters ending their jobs as of August 2013.

An MT working for a private-for-profit company is considered a subcontractor. They work in their homes on privately owned computers. However, in this increasingly digital age, their home computers are subject to security breaches or computer hacking, and subcontractors are not asked for a criminal record background check.

In the hospital, an employee is subject to a criminal record background check and signs a confidentiality agreement to ensure patient’s medical records remain confidential. In-house MTs work in a secure location provided by the health authority on secure computers monitored by an internal IT service.

Medical transcriptionists working at any of the secured hubs come across a large number of reports that have been edited by physicians on a daily basis. Those reports are then corrected by the MT.

In-house MTs are familiar with the province of British Columbia and can easily distinguish between Burrard Street and Broadway. Being a British Columbian benefits us with diversity, and as such, we understand the many different spellings of names to accurately identify physicians so that the patient’s report can be forwarded to the correct physician. An outsourced MT has limited resources, such as the Internet and textbooks; however, they are not familiar with local names, places or physician names.

As a health authority medical transcriptionist, I take great pride in the ability of our in-house transcriptionists to accurately create medical documents with patient care in mind. I do not want to depend on the accuracy of someone living and working in another province.

An outsourcing company has recently begun transcribing Lower Mainland medical dictations. Their subcontractors transcribe B.C. medical records all over Canada. B.C. patients have the right to obtain copies of their medical reports when visiting their local hospital or physician to maintain knowledge and accuracy of their own personal health records.

• Do you know who is transcribing your confidential medical report?

• Do you want to depend on someone living and working in another province to accurately transcribe your medical records?

Let’s stop the provincial government from further outsourcing essential hospital services in our province and keep our local hospitals—and jobs—local.

Annette Anganu and Barbara Rennie,

LMHIM medical transcriptionists,