Medical Transcription Potpourri

Vol. 16 •Issue 15 • Page 17
AAMT Track

Medical Transcription Potpourri

The beginning of summer is always a time for me to spring clean. If I have not used it or worn it in a year, out it goes! I find myself doing the same thing with my thoughts. The industry and the profession are no longer in sync, and my thoughts are not as focused as they usually are about my profession. Let me share with you some of them.

It seems to me that everyone is focused on technology and hardly anyone is focused on quality. Now, I know everyone says they are committed to quality, but I do not see that. I see technology advisers making decisions about what is the best/easiest/cheapest way to do medical transcription. I see health care system managers unwilling or unable to meet the challenge of the information technology (IT) managers to defend quality even if it does cost more. I hear HIM directors saying to “type what you hear É just meet the turnaround times.” I hear MTs saying, “I am getting paid what I got paid 10 years ago É why should I take time to look up the correct spelling or term, no one cares anymore. And besides, I have to meet a line count and make enough money to pay my mortgage.”

I hear students from some great programs say they are having a hard time getting a job. Our industry is bitterly complaining about the lack of MTs, but we are not willing to invest in training the next generation. Is it any surprise that with that attitude, technology is taking the lead in our industry and outsourcing is a major player?

Everyone is working at home nowadays. Remember the old proverb, “Out of sight, out of mind”? I would like to edit it a little: “Out of sight, out of influence.” By leaving the institutional settings, we have left behind our ability to influence the decision-makers and have a positive effect on our profession and patient care.

Speech recognition vendors are doing the same thing dictation vendors did years ago–everything is proprietary. If the president of the United States wants an electronic health record (EHR), he would be well advised to mention to the technology gurus that these need to be interoperable. Now we have to spend another $1 million buying or developing interfaces. Does this really make sense?

Just this week I had a doctor dictate the following: “I cannot get to the computerized lab data because the system is down.” Oops! Technology is great–when it works. I think we are a long way from actually having EHRs that are dependable, reliable and redundant enough to be safe to rely on. After all, whose life is it that they are betting on?

I am getting ready to attend the American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT) Annual Convention and Expo in Boston, Aug. 2-5, 2006. I am excited to get together with other attendees and leaders to discuss the crisis in health care and our role in solving these issues. I am delighted that our association has been to Washington, DC, twice now to talk to legislators and aides. I continue to be amazed by the documents coming out of ASTM E31 for transcription, quality and dictation standards. As I read about meetings between AAMT and the American Health Information Management Association, I am glad to hear they are talking about a future for the MT, not a slow and painful death. AAMT is searching for a project coordinator to help define technology interfaces and standards for transcription. Finally we are in on the ground floor level.

I recently attended a workshop by Jay Vance, CMT. He said, “It is time MTs quit arguing about where to put the comma and start having serious discussions about quality documentation, useful technology and reality-based systems.” I have to say, I agree with him. I hope to see you all in Boston where we can continue these critical discussions.

Carrie Boatman works for Transcription Communications Corp. in Roseville, CA. She is a past president of AAMT.