Whidbey General Hospital transcriptionists dispute outsourcing pay
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
September 16, 2011 · Updated 1:05 PM
Whidbey General Hospital commissioners indicated that they were satisfied with a decision to outsource 10 transcriptionist positions.
During the regular meeting Monday night, the commissioners briefly discussed the hospital administrator’s decision to contract with a national medical transcription company, Wedmedx, to take over transcription for the hospital. Hospital CFO Joe Vessey said the savings will be “closer to $2 million over five years.”
Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer said she had never heard any discussion about outsourcing the jobs, but CEO Tom Tomasino said that the idea has been discussed numerous times in the past.
Commissioner Ron Wallin said he was pleased with the savings.
“We tasked Joe (Vessey) with making every possible cost savings at the hospital,” he said.
Vessey said hospital officials worked hard to find a transcription company that treated its employees well. He said all the transcriptionists will be offered jobs with the company. He said the employees have the opportunity to actually make more money with the company.
Yet confusion persists about how much the transcriptionists will actually get paid. The News-Times story contributed to the confusion by inaccurately reporting, due to a typographical error, that they would be paid 80 cents an hour. The letter that Webmedx sent to transcriptionists inaccurately stated they would be paid “.080 cents per line.”
The truth is Webmedx is offering to pay transcriptionists 8 cents a line for transcription and 4 cents a line for editing. Vessey indicated that transcriptionist Linda Quistorf, as reported by the News-Times story, was inaccurate when she estimated that she will make $9 an hour with the company. Vessey indicated that the pay would actually be much more.
In an email message, Tomasino calculated that Quistorf would earn $36 an hour if she types 110 words a minute, which is what she quoted as her typing speed. But the transcriptionists pointed out that his calculations inaccurately used “a 65 characters in a line standard,” while they were told Webmedx uses the new industry standard of 52 visible black characters (VBCS) per line. That results in 30 percent less in earnings, according to a report by the American Health Information Management Association and Medical Transcription Industry Association Joint Task Force on Standards Development.
With that standard, a transcriptionist who types 110 words a minute would still earn more than $25 an hour, according to Tomasino’s calculation. Yet a transcriptionists’ association estimate that about 60 to 70 words a minute is closer to their average speed for a professional.
Several transcriptionists calculated that they will make $10 an hour and that the work won’t be full-time. They currently make from $16 to $24 an hour.
In addition, Quistorf said most of the work will probably be editing, which pays half and takes much longer.
Yet Vessey pointed out, that transcription is a changing industry and the vast majority of hospitals no longer employ in-house transcriptionists because of the sheer cost, which is ultimately passed on to patients.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.