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Medical transcription industry hits a snag

CEBU, Philippines - The supposedly promising medical transcription industry in the Philippines has hit a snag with the lack of promotion aggressiveness coupled with the strengthening of the greenback to the Philippine peso.

It is for this reason that of Cebu’s pioneers in the medical transcription industry, the Northern Transcription Works (NTW), opted to diversify its services to other transcription channels, other than medical transcription works.

 NTW-chief marketing officer Ma. Lourdes “Mawit” Go said the volatility of the peso against the dollar has made RP-based medical transcription providers uncompetitive against other countries, one of which is India.

Despite the unrivaled skills of Filipino medical transcriptionists, India’s hyperactive bid to capture a huge chunk of the US medical transcription market has been effective resulting to a growth slowdown in this particular BPO component in the Philippines.

NTW, which used to focus its outsourcing services for medical transcription now accepts jobs from other backroom outsourcing services like voice data/voice mail transcription, legal, financial, and recently it does jobs for documentary transcription for Discovery Channel.

Although, only 20 percent of the company’s entire operation is dedicated to medical transcription, Go said NTW has maintained a long-term deal to service 10 big clinics in the United States for this particular job.

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 Overall, she said the industry is not growing as expected, owing to the lack of aggressiveness of some Filipino-owned medical transcription companies to market directly to the US clients.

She mentioned that in her promotional trips abroad, while attending exhibitions for medical transcription market, she noted that Indians are very aggressive in selling this particular service to clinics and hospitals in the US.

Filipinos, on the other hand, are largely dependent their marketing-hold of US-based middlemen that will market the services for them.

 Go and her partners started the first medical transcription school in Cebu called International School for Medical Transcription (ISMT) a few years back.

Today, ISMT has become an in-house training school for NTW, instead of operating as a commercial school for medical transcriptionists. The Philippines is only getting 10 percent of the estimated US$12 billion medical transcription market in the US, India captures 75 percent, while the rest of offshore services goes to China and other cheaper locations.

In 2006, MT industry in the Philippines posted US$126 million in revenue. Medical Transcription (MT) outsourcing service is the process of converting voice dictation (typically either cassette or digital forms) into a permanent written record utilizing word processing equipment and software.

This service developed after the United States government amended the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) under the administration of US President (then) Bill Clinton in 1996.

This law ensures the continuity of healthcare coverage for individuals changing jobs and includes a provision that impacts on the management of health information, seeks to simplify the administration of health care insurance, and also aims to combat waste, fraud and abuse in health insurance and healthcare.

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