Medical Transcription Pricing Simplified

When selecting a medical transcription company, it can be difficult to compare apples to apples, especially when it comes to pricing.

Pricing can be quoted in various ways, the most common being:

Price per line of transcription

Price per minute of dictation

Price per page of transcription

Price per keystroke

There are some industry standards to help navigate your way through the pricing maze.  The Association for Healthcare Documentation has standardized a line of transcription as being 65 characters and spaces.  Which means “Dear Sir:” is really only 9 characters, not one line.  Ethical companies count the total number of characters and spaces in a document, then divide by 65, and round up to give you the line count.  For example, this paragraph has 519 characters with spaces, or 8 lines.

When you choose pricing by the line for your medical transcription, it is easily verified.  In  Microsoft Word, go to Tools (or Review) > Word Count > Characters (with spaces).

The next most common way of measuring is per minute of dictation.  Take for example, a transcription company such as Transcript Divas that charges $3.48 per minute of medical dictation for next day service.  People on average speak at a rate of 8 – 12 lines per minute.  Taking the average of 10 lines per minute, the cost per minute of medical dictation would be $0.35.  You’re also paying for the time that you pause during dictating to organize your papers or your thoughts, unless you press the pause button on the telephone or digital recorder.

Price per page of transcription is a common way of billing for home-based transcriptionists, who tend to service a small number of local clients.  You’ll pay for each page of transcription, regardless of whether or not it’s a full or partial page, unless you negotiate otherwise.  Remember, your signature block, letterhead, font, size, margins and page format all contribute to the length of the document.  Squeezing your dictations to try to save money results in less white space, makes them less readable, and impacts on the professional look of the document.

Keystroke counting is usually reserved for the larger hospital-based transcription companies, but it is used by some smaller ones as well.  While HOSPITAL is only eight characters, it’s 40 keystrokes (each letter is capitalized, bolded, underlined and italicized).  It’s difficult to document and verify the number of keystrokes in a document, as it’s a program on the transcriptionist’s computer that tracks the count.

Here’s a handy chart to try to make sense of some of the differences you may encounter in pricing.  For a five minute dictation (approximately 50 lines of dictation or up to 3 pages of dictation), you could expect to pay:

Price per line (Characters with spaces) @ $0.20 per line Price per minute of dictation @ 


Price per page of transcription @ $4.00 per page Keystrokes
Pricing $10.00 $14.00 $12.00 10 – 15% premium over price per line depending on formatting.


These are common prices for the Toronto, Ontario marketplace.  Pricing varies depending on the volume, the type of work, how good the dictator is, and local employment trends.

2Ascribe medical transcription agency offers quality medical transcription services to physicians and other health care providers.  Based in Toronto, Ontario, they offer medical transcription services throughout Canada.

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