DDL medical data company to expand By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
July 19, 2004

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Decipher International Inc.(DII) plans to expand its services to include medical billing and coding in addition to the medical transcription service it launched two years ago targeting US doctors.

The young company is poised to venture into the new markets which will involve upgrading its staff and their capabilities, according to the firm's administrative manager, John Melville.

By the end of the year Decipher would have trained a second batch of Medical Transcriptionists (MTs), as part of its plans to expand the information technology (IT) operation that is now servicing three overseas clients.

"The most reliable means of determining satisfactory performance by a transcription company and its transcriptionists is the retention and growth of its client base," he wrote in response to questions posed by Stabroek News.

"For us, this is a true indication that we are providing an acceptable service, since transcription companies are not privy to the details of each other's performance."

The DDL group acquired the company last year to gain a foothold in the IT sector.

Industry projections for 2000-2004 showed US$17.67B in business would have been outsourced internationally while estimates for the current year indicate that there are 2000 vacant MT positions and roughly 150 new jobs opportunities per month.

Medical transcription in-volves recording doctors' oral findings on the history of patients for future reference and for insurance claims. MTs use specially designed software and hardware to convert oral dictations to electronic texts.

Decipher began operations on August 1, 2003 and now 28 MTs with a small support staff are deployed on two shifts to meet delivery schedules for clients and to optimise the internet-leased line capacity as they transcribe and edit medical files.

In a detailed profile of the firm, Melville explained that while not oblivious to the challenges to international market entry and penetration by a new third world company, Decipher has built a reputation as a reliable service provider.

Decipher's advantage is said to be real-time transcription given the similar time zones with the USA. English as the native tongue and the cost-efficient labour are also factors.

The company hopes to use these advantages to position itself as a player in related markets.

"Through these advantages, the progressive upgrading of capacities and the expansion of our trained pool of transcriptionists, DII will strive to position itself to undertake medical billing and coding and business transcription as additional services in the future," Melville explained.

With this in mind, the company's transcriptionists are encouraged to upgrade their skills to become Certified Medical Transcrip-tionists (CMTs), using home-study training programmes and community colleges and proprietary schools in the US, he added.

It is not necessary to be a CMT to become a transcriptionist, according to the American Association of Medical Transcriptionists (AAMT), the membership organisation for the profession. But earning the credential is the best criterion for career advancement. AAMT has developed a model curriculum for Medical Transcription that is used by educators.

AAMT has also produced tapes and CDs for classroom and home study.

One of the difficulties for transcriptionists is the varying accents of foreign doctors as well as their voice modulation and dictation capabilities, which are factors that can affect the quality of the transcribed file.

One of the most common complaints by physicians is said to be the uneven quality of work done by MTs.

Melville says while it is not unusual to receive complaints about the quality of a particular transcribed file, the company is keen to ensure that its employees apply their training to adapt to these variables.

He also explained that there is continuous evaluation of the transcriptionists and assessments are done on every job completed.