Mayo Clinic Offers Buyouts to 400 Medical Transcriptionists

With new technology capable of performing their duties, transcriptionists face uncertain professional futures.

Mayo Clinic Offers Buyouts to 400 Medical Transcriptionists
Health care giant Mayo Clinic has offered about 400 of its medical transcriptionists the option of pursuing another job within the company or taking a “voluntary separation package.”
The Mayo Clinic is not using the terms “layoff” or “job cuts,” reports the Post Bulletin, but separation packages have been offered to staff at the nonprofit’s headquarters in Rochester, as well as at its Jacksonville, Florida and Scottsdale, Arizona campuses.
Medical transcriptionists, also referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, are responsible for transcribing medical notes recorded by doctors and other personnel. They often work from home and may even work outside the region or state of their assigned campus.
The job has long been a pertinent, respected aspect of major medical practices, but has widely experienced dramatic job cuts, outsourcing and wage reductions in recent years, thanks to the introduction of technology capable of the same tasks. Mayo Clinic Health Systems cut or outsourced 188 transcriptionists in Wisconsin in 2014 and 82 transcriptionists in 2013.
“This is part of a national trend in health care. New tools are reducing the need for transcription services. As a result, the need for medical transcriptionists to convert dictation into written reports is also declining,” said Roshy Didehban, chair of practice administration at Mayo Clinic, last week. “We’ve had honest, ongoing conversations with our staff about this change and are taking steps to help reduce the effect of this change on our staff.”
Mayo sent an internal notice of the changes on April 4 and held a mandatory live Skype meeting informing transcriptionists they have 45 days, or until May 19, to decide whether to take the buyouts.
Though Mayo denies a direct correlation, the buyout offers come as Mayo Clinic is set to adopt an electronic health-records program by Epic Systems on May 5. The program includes voice-transcribing features by M*Modal.
“We were told if we didn’t accept (the offered severance package) we would keep our current job, but they couldn’t say for how long as [after our ‘Go Live’ day with Epic] they expect to need even less of us,” a Mayo Clinic transcriptionist told the Post Bulletin, on the condition of anonymity to protect their job.
As Mayo Clinic transcriptionists ponder their futures, several Mayo officials stressed to the Post Bulletin that it is doing what it can to help affected employees leave with financial security or find new roles in the company.
Still, transcriptionists are wary.
“It’s not just losing this job but we all know that this is the end of our entire career as transcriptionists,” wrote one transcriptionist about morale at their Mayo Clinic department.
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