San Francisco Chronicle Examines Health Care Providers’ Use of Medical Transcription Services
The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday examined health care providers' use of medical transcription services, which sometimes convert patients' information to electronic format and can lead to violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's medical privacy rule, which took effect in April. Medical transcriptionists receive tape recordings made by doctors of their hand-written notes along with patients' complete medical charts. Although transcriptionists are required by HIPAA to keep confidential any medical information they receive, it is difficult for regulators to ensure patients' privacy. "[I]t's all on the honor system," Lisa Farragut, president of the California Association for Medical Transcription, said, adding, "How many places can the HIPAA people be checking? They can't inspect everywhere." In addition, an increasing amount of the outsourced transcription work is going to foreign-based firms, where HIPAA laws do not apply or are more difficult to enforce. According to the Chronicle, nearly all Bay Area hospitals, including those run by Sutter, Kaiser Permanente, University of California-San Francisco and Stanford, outsource some portion of their transcription work, but it is unclear how much is outsourced to firms based abroad, the Chronicle reports (Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.