Why is it cheaper to outsource transcription particularly for universities and the NHS?

Why is it cheaper to outsource transcription particularly for universities and the NHS?

Why is it usually cheaper to outsource transcription rather than complete it ‘in house’, particularly for universities and the NHS?

We often get asked why we are cheaper to use for transcription purposes than if an organisation were to undertake the typing in-house themselves. After all, completing transcription work is not exactly a complex operation and it does just involve listening to spoken word and converting it into the written word.

This is true, and there is absolutely no reason why an organisation cannot complete transcription work in-house themselves. Administrative staff are not that expensive to recruit, and the work is not that complicated to require a large amount of training.

However there are two main differences between using an outsourced transcription service like universitytranscriptions.co.uk and completing the work in-house or using in-house resources to undertake it.


The cost of completing work in-house is very dependent on the salaries you are paying out to recruit staff to do it. Take an NHS trust in and around London. The cost of a suitably experienced audio typist to undertake medical work or research transcription is going to be in the region of around £19,000 to £24,000 per year, if not higher. This person will be on site all the time, whether or not the transcription resource is needed, and you will need to get cover for them as well should they require annual leave or take time off for sickness.

It may be that one week you have seven doctors dictating notes for the transcriber to type up and the following week there may be twelve doctors utilising the same service. It may be that most of this work is on a 48 hour return deadline.

If you only recruit one member of staff to do this work, they are not going to last very long under the immense pressure your professionals are going to put them under. If the transcriber is overused then the work is going to stack up. If the work stacks up and the transcriber has not completed it, chances are they are going to start suffering from higher levels of stress at work. If the transcriber suffers high levels of stress at work because of the undue pressures being placed upon them by the increased workflow, then chances are at some point they’re going to need to take time off for sickness and to recover their health. When this happen there is going to be a tremendous backlog of work for the doctors using the service.

Compare and contrast this with using an external transcription service such as University Transcriptions. For the one week when you had seven doctors requiring audio typing there will be transcription capacity to cope with this and for the second week, when there are thirteen doctors, there will similarly be capacity to deal with the increased workload. Timeframes for returning the work will not be affected, the work quality will be exactly the same if not better because the transcribers will not be under pressure to complete the work.

One of the major factors is the location as well. In the example given above, the NHS trust is based in London and the South East. The cost of recruiting staff in London and the South East can be prohibitively expensive due to London weightings. If you use a transcription service to complete your work then it is highly likely the transcribers undertaking the transcription will be located in areas of the country where costs are lower, if not considerably lower. Using the example of the London or South East NHS Trust above, there will inevitably be London weighting to factor into any staff recruitment. Transcription companies tend to be based in areas where costs are that bit lower and there is no London weighting needing to be paid. Partly for this reason the cost involved can be considerably lower.


The second key factor for reducing costs by outsourcing is the flexibility offered by a transcription company. Take an example In the example of there being say 20 hours work in one week and then the following week 50 hours work. A transcription company will have the capacity to complete both, usually because they have a bank of primary and secondary transcribers available to assist and can easily soak up the extra work as required. In-house resources tend to be constrained to the overall quantity of staff you have available at any one time. It is very difficult for in house teams to call in further assistance at short notice and other staff are going to resent this if you then expect them to undertake transcription on top of their other work as well.

So these are the main two reasons why a UK based transcription company can be considerably cheaper, more cost effective and more efficient than having an in-house transcription service that is likely to be fairly inflexible and somewhat expensive by the very nature of the location of your organisation or institution. Coupled with the fact that transcription is usually hard work, requiring high levels of concentration, no interruptions from telephone calls or other work, outsourcing it is the preferred option for a lot of medics and researchers.

To speak to our managing director regarding your outsourced transcription needs, please email Anna Gresty at anna@tptranscription.co.uk or call 01745 813306. We would be happy to come and meet you and discuss in person how we can help you and your organisation achieve substantial cost savings and greater efficiencies. For details of our services please visit www.universitytranscriptions.co.uk.