Medical transcription eyed: 131 employees in region could be out of work

Medical transcription staff in the Lower Mainland are facing an uncertain future. A proposal could displace 131 full- and part-time workers.

Medical transcription staff in the Lower Mainland are facing an uncertain future.

A proposal could displace 131 full- and part-time workers (including 73 employed by Fraser Health) as well as 34 casual employees.

Fraser Health, along with Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health, are planning to redesign their transcription departments.

The proposal examines the possibility of outsourcing the service.

The change is expected to save just over $3 million annually.

As part of providing care, physicians often dictate (voice record) the outcomes of a patient’s visit. Transcription services staff type this information into electronic documents, which become part of a patient’s medical records.

Currently, there are different computer systems, standards and processes for delivering transcription services.

Discussions are currently underway with the Hospital Employees Union and the B.C. Government Employees Union to identify opportunities for efficiencies within existing resources.

Pending the outcome of those negotiations, a potential request for proposal would invite solutions and proposals from external vendors.

“There is a 90-day consultation period which we’ve just begun,” said Yoel Robens-Paradise, executive director of Lower Mainland Health Information Management, part of  Providence Health Care, the organization leading the implementation process.

“The business case is to implement two things – a new system as well as a decrease in our labour costs.”

If no agreement can be reached after the 90 days, companies would be encouraged to bid on the work. The plan is to have a new system in place by the end of 2012.

Hospital Employees Union (HEU) spokesperson Mike Old said the two sides will meet next week for initial discussions on the proposal.

He said a notice was given to the union and the workers stating that “they have an intention to basically contract out the service.”

“We have no idea what they are looking for. The only thing they have said is that they need to save some money.”

But he does say contracting out is not the best option.