Advanced voice recognition technology is at the heart of a new UNM Cancer Center transcription system that will allow patients’ electronic medical records to be updated more quickly, ultimately improving patient safety and lowering costs, the hospital announced Tuesday.

Due to the implementation of this new system, the UNM Cancer Center will need to eliminate 10 medical transcriptionist positions, effective January 31, 2014.

The UNM Cancer Center – part of the UNM Health Sciences Center and UNM Hospitals – has partnered with its transcription vendor Nuance to offer employment to all 10 affected transcription staff. Affected employees may also be placed into other positions at the University of New Mexico.

“Patient safety remains our paramount responsibility and guides are decisions,” said Dr. Paul Roth, UNM Chancellor for Health Sciences. “We will continue to respond to advances in technology that improve patient safety and lower our costs. At the same time, we understand the potential hardship this may impose on employees. We are committed to helping our employees in any way we can, hopefully securing future employment. We appreciate and thank each of them for their years of service.”

“Over the last decade, technological advances in voice recognition have made it clear that transcription services would be less and less practical,” said Rodney Martinez, chief financial officer at the UNM Cancer Center. “Recognizing the service of our employees, we have secured employment with our vendor while providing safer, less expensive services to our physicians and patients.”

Advanced transcription technology improves patient safety for several reasons. Medical records will be updated more quickly, ensuring completed documentation is in a patient’s record during their next medical visit.  The cancer center’s goal is to have records updated within 24 hours during periods of high volume.

Also, Nuance requires 99-percent accuracy on documents, which minimizes patient care errors resulting from documentation mistakes.

Affected employees who choose to work for Nuance will be offered a strong transition package including:

  • Recognition of years of service with UNM
  • Guaranteed salary for a defined period of time
  • Waiver of the 90-day wait period for healthcare benefits
  • Waiver of the 90-day wait period for incentive program participation
  • Work placement on existing account
  • Waiver of Nuance pre-employment requirements for a medical transcriptionist actively working