Dictation and transcription services have been a valuable business tool for many years. These services continue to be important—and they need to be flexible, accessible and fast.
There is a wide array of service providers to choose from, but how you choose is as important as whom you choose. With the advent of big data and the corresponding wave of complex legislation—HIPPA, GLBA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, etc.—sanctions for noncompliance can be onerous. Some providers are sophisticated when it comes to security, some less so. You can’t afford to use a provider that cannot clearly demonstrate its understanding and use of data security protocols.
Here are some important considerations:
- Employee background checks. Are they thorough, including Social Security number verification and address history, as a requirement for employment? Can transcriptionists access data about the client, or is client data kept separately?
- Remote facilities. Are the equipment and facilities under the provider’s direct control?
Is work being processed in the U.S. or overseas where U.S. laws don’t apply? Does the company use home-based transcriptionists?
- Downstream vendors. Is work processed under sole control of the transcription company or is the vendor outsourcing?
- Shared environments. Are the equipment and facilities shared across multiple purposes or companies? Shared environments include a home-based transcriptionist using a personal laptop or a dictation company sharing server space with other companies.
Dictation and transcription services were traditionally handled by support personnel and are still often viewed as simple, low-level functions. Financial professionals may “hire” their own personal technologies—tablets, smart phones, cloud applications—to do this work, but this is risky.
Siri and Android’s speech-to-text functions are considered safe, native applications, with data being processed only on the phone. In addition to risk of loss of the device itself, the trouble is the trustworthiness of the application coupled with complex data use agreements that are often dismissed with a touch of the “I accept” button. Rather than holding the content on the device, many speech-to-text applications retain and process the data. Out of your hands and untraceable, the data may be transferred, copied and even sold, creating serious reputational and compliance risks.
Voice-to-text software is not always efficient. It’s highly interpretive and cannot be relied upon for accuracy. It often requires a good bit of editing. Furthermore, licenses for voice-to-text software often require consent to expansive privacy policies, which may not be compliant.
Financial services companies must identify better alternatives that must satisfy these criteria:
- Available 24/7
- Accessible from anywhere
- Easy to use—as easy or better than one’s personal technology
- Able to understand and interpret industry jargon
If a service fails to meet the bar for ease of use, busy workers juggling multiple projects, deadlines and travel schedules will simply revert to their own equipment (I’ll just store it in my iPhone for now). This leaves the information without backup, encryption or other safety measures, creating risks of compliance issues, hefty fines, reputational damage and other problems.
Finding the Right Provider
A few key questions can help you identify the best vendor are:
- Does the provider have a solid understanding of the risk and regulatory environment in you operate?
- Is there a culture of security within the organization?
- Are employees screened carefully?
- Are standard protocols for safeguarding data being followed?
Remember, risk can never be entirely eliminated, but the right provider can make a world of difference.