Wellmont may outsource medical transcription services

Rain Smith • Apr 16, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The Times-News has learned Wellmont Health System is looking to outsource medical transcription services at all of its facilities. Requests for proposals have been sent to eight vendors.

Wellmont says about 50 employees could be affected. They stressed that a decision to outsource the work has not been made, and those employees could ultimately be hired by a contractor if one is chosen.

Wellmont spokesman Brad Lifford said new avenues are being explored because Wellmont’s current dictation and transcription system is outdated.

An e-mail to employees from Rebecca Boles, director of Health Information Services at Holston Valley Medical Center, reads “replacing the system has become impossible due to the current economic situation.”

“Right now we’re looking at a number of options,” Lifford said. “Those options could mean outsourcing some transcriptions. It could mean keeping them in house. It could mean sharing resources with other health systems.

“We are examining operations and procedures to ensure we are current and efficient, which is a normal course of business for all businesses.”

In an e-mail to employees, Valerie Hook, transcription supervisor at Bristol Regional Medical Center, said Wellmont hopes to have its services in place by July 1.

“In the content of the RFP (requests for proposals), it is clearly stated that the vendor selected must be prepared to offer employment to our current transcribers and that those transcribers be assigned to Wellmont work (to maintain familiarity among both physicians and transcribers),” reads Hook’s e-mail.

It goes on to relay that employees have raised questions about compensation and benefits offered by the vendors being considered.

“Most offer competitive benefits including (but not limited to) PTO time, 401(k) plans/matching, health insurance, etc.”

Lifford echoed Hook’s emphasis on securing jobs for current Wellmont transcription employees.

“In regards to the possibility of outsourcing transcriptions, all requests for proposals have specified in detail that if we should choose to outsource, our employees would be offered positions with the selected company,” said Lifford.

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