siliconindia USA Aug 2002
By Rahul Chandran
What are the realistic opportunities for the medical transcription industry?
IT HAS BEEN EIGHT LONG years since the first of India’s medical transcription companies set up shop in Bangalore. From too many fly-by-night companies to a few very serious players, the market has seen it all. But companies like Vennarsoft Technologies and HealthScribe, staying afloat by their careful attention to detail, impeccable quality control, and productivity improvement, have managed to survive the lean years.
Venkatesh Babu, chief executive officer of Vennarsoft Technologies, a Bangalore-based medical transcription company, is no stranger to the vagaries of the medical transcription market. He was in for a rude awakening when the product he had designed for the medical transcription market—Stenoscription —found no takers.“We had entered the market primarily as a product company. However, that was the time when medical transcription companies in India started going bust. But we insured ourselves against this possibility by entering the actual transcription business in a small way,” Babu says. Vennarsoft now counts among its client list 14 Hospitals on the East Coast of the U.S.
So what went wrong?
Firms entered the market thinking this was a cost-driven opportunity. “The cost advantage alone would not sustain a company in the long run. Investments in training and quality and productivity improvements over a long time frame were required for success. Moreover, no investments were made in customer acquisition. Those companies that invested in the business for the long term are surviving. The others have had to close shop,” Suresh Nair, chief operating officer of HealthScribe India, points out.
“The biggest problem with many companies here was that they were in it for a fast buck. They considered this just another ‘stenography’ job. So when the cost advantage did not bring them business, they were ill prepared to scale up. So they had to close,” Babu explains.
Market volatility has lead to depressing snetiments—a reason why hardly any company has sought an IPO. Apart from a few companies in Mumbai and Hyderabad, none of the 100 odd companies that survived the slowdown has gone public—and for good reason, too. “When the industry was heralded as a sunrise industry, people weren’t too worried about an exit strategy. And by the time companies started taking losses, the market was too depressed even to consider an IPO,” says Babu.
But the sentiment is changing. People are now beginning to realize that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the industry. “Earlier VCs were wary about funding transcription companies,” Babu explains. “But now, I have people who have expressed their willingness to invest in my expansion plans. An IPO is certainly something we have in mind. Two or three years from now, we expect enough liquidity to warrant an IPO.”
But for now, Babu is content with expanding his business. “I am looking at acquiring a U.S. company that generates about 100,000 lines of transcription per day. That is perhaps the easiest way for customer acquisition,” he adds.
Most medical transcription companies place a high premium on quality assurance. “We are working on difficult work types because we have been able to convince our customers of the quality of our process and people,” Nair says. In medical transcription, quality assurance must be an ongoing process. “If the customer sees good quality on a continual basis he will be willing to trust you with more work regardless of its complexity,” Nair says.
All said and done, Nair concedes that U.S. transcription companies enjoy a distinct advantage over Indian outsourcers. “It is significantly tougher for Indian outsourcers than for companies based in the U.S. When you already have a front-end mechanism in place, the company’s processes are not an issue, as far as potential clients are concerned. All the company has to do to address these concerns is to establish not just the viability but also the quality processes of the Indian wing.”
Babu agrees, “For offshore transcription centers, India offers only a significant cost advantage. But for companies like ours, we had to focus not only on the processes but also in setting up marketing offices in the U.S. And investors are not very keen on funding to set up a sales force. They are more concerned with the technology and the processes.”
Babu and Nair hope that brighter days are ahead. But at least, they no longer have to do the groundwork to dispel perceptions that India is not a viable outsourcing destination, as the Indian eCRM companies and software houses have helped to do that. Stringent quality checks and productivity skills are more critical elements that will decide their future survival.
KAIRALI TV CHANNEL on 20th February 2002 at 10:00pm
Vennar Soft Inc. was telecasted in the series of ITES called IT UTSAV on KAIRALI TV CHANNEL on 20th February 2002 at 10:00pm.
Deccan Herald (Bangalore) Monday, 03-August 2001
Bangalore-based Vennar Soft Inc. has launched state-of-the-art Shorthand Keyboard Computer Aided Transcription SKCAT which increases the speed in the real time medical transcription from 30 to 40 words per minute to 120-140 words per minute.
SKCAT is a system of phonetics writing using a compact key board. the machine consists of 23 keys with 21 letter keys, an asterisk key and the number bar. a combination of keys can be depressed in a single stroke. thus, with a single stroke, a syllable, worked, phrase or a sentence is written and is much faster than the conventional QWERTY key board. its technology speeds up production by enabling the transcriptionist in medical transcription to give an output of over 800 to 1,500 lines per day with a high level of accuracy.
The New Indian Express (Bangalore) Wednesday, 03-November 1999 Vennar Soft Inc.
Vennar Soft Inc. a company in India to adopt the 23-keys Electronic Machine Shorthand for Medical Transcription . This technology, widely used in USA and Canada for transcription has the unique feature of faster writing speeds accompanied by high standards of accuracy, as phonetic stroking is implemented.
Vennar Soft offers extensive in-house training based on the university courses offered in USA. The Training also focuses on medical terminology and comprehension of various accents of physicians in USA. This intensive training equips each transcriptionist to transcribe about 3 to 4 times more then one would on the QWERTY( Computer Key-Board) with 99% accuracy there by increasing their earning capacity.