MTs Sink or Swim on Speech Recognition

Vol. 16 •Issue 14 • Page 8
Management Q & A

MTs Sink or Swim on Speech Recognition

Q: Jenny is a transcription supervisor for a local medical transcription service organization. About 6 months ago, the service was purchased by a software company that sells speech recognition software.

As part of the deal, the MTs were trained to use the speech recognition technology as part of their jobs.

While some MTs are slowly adjusting, there are a few stubborn holdouts.

Jenny is an experienced manager, but she does not have an MT background, and sometimes struggles with understanding some of the MTs’ complaints. Upper management has warned her that “older MTs typically resist new technology and change of any kind. If they can’t adjust, let them go.”

But some of the MTs’ complaints about the software seem valid, and she’s not sure how to tell the legitimate complaints from the resistance-to-change gripes. How should she proceed with this?

A: Analyzing the situation and gathering facts will immediately allow Jenny to identify the legitimacy of the complaints she is receiving. She should turn negatives into positives and involve the staff in gathering the facts. She can’t do it by herself; she has to let her staff be involved so they feel part of the team. After all, they are the ones doing the daily work. She should consider them as very valuable team players.

She needs to create a current workflow in three parts: manage, create, process. Learn what the benefits are to speech recognition and identify them in the new technology.

Jenny must also understand what the new technology offers her department, such as front-end speech recognition; transcriptionist-assist or back-end speech recognition; online editing; electronic signature; auto-faxing; updating medical staff lists and maintaining that listing to improve referral base and provide quality patient care in a timely manner. This assists in the paper shuffle and high cost of postage required to get the referrals to another physician in a timely manner. It also guarantees that the referral physician gets a report on the patient.

Physicians will have to be trained and given simple facts on “why should they change.” Always give physicians facts, not fiction. No flowery message, just get straight to the point. Cost savings is one thing physicians look at very closely, but keep it simple. Jenny will need to be comfortable when talking about this change; that’s the reason she needs to know the facts.

Jenny needs to identify the required staff training, indicate who will need training and set a timeline. She needs to list the productivity improvements with the new system.

In the end, Jenny will be able to show a reduction in transcription costs, efficiency in her team’s productivity, better turnaround time on dated correspondence with referring physicians and quality patient care. In her final analysis, she should be able to demonstrate that speech recognition is a positive move forward in today’s technological world.

Katie B. Mock

A: The first step is for Jenny to form a taskforce composed of trusted and experienced MTs. She needs to clarify whether the complaints are valid software issues and not just a case of “fear of the unknown.”

With the help of the taskforce, interview each resistant MT to see if there is validity to their concerns. These discussions usually uncover the complaints that stem from unwillingness to change vs. the legitimate complaints about functionality. For valid complaints, document the issues, recommended solutions and submit these to the software developers. A responsive software vendor will make attempts to reconfigure or customize the software to address major complaints.

The next step is to quickly move forward with a plan to provide additional training. In my experience, the combination of a little hand holding and direct communication between the software trainer(s) and employees is usually enough to get the stragglers on board. Changing of staff or letting personnel go is usually not necessary when implementing new systems.

Once the learning curve moves along and resistant personnel see other users benefiting from the new software, they are usually motivated to not be left behind.

Jim Kasoff

This Week’s Panel:

Katie B. Mock is a medical records manager, chief privacy officer and systems trainer at the Menlo Medical Center in Menlo Park, CA.

Jim Kasoff is the vice president of operations at Antek Healthware, LLC in Reisterstown, MD.