Medical Transcription as Proven Accelerator of EHR Adoption

AHDI and MTIA bring their message to Capitol Hill.

The transcription sector took a solution-focused message to Capitol Hill June 3-4 in response to President Obama’s provisions and mandate for EHR adoption under the recent HITECH Act. With this administration’s push to have both a definition and criteria for “meaningful use” determined by July of this year, the Medical Transcription Industry Association (MTIA) and the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) believe there is a critically narrow window of opportunity for this sector to ensure that such criteria includes provisions for the evolving role of transcription in hybrid capture, where complex narrative is preserved and quality outcomes, not just fiscal savings, drive adoption and integration. The HIT vendor community is positioning itself around key decision-makers in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in whose hands the determination of “meaningful use” now resides. Inarguably, the primary interest of those vendors is in securing widespread EHR adoption through HITECH provisions, and our message to legislators was that HHS needs others at the decision-making table whose interest is geared more toward how these technologies will be deployed and not whether they will be deployed.

Defining “meaningful use” is not the role of HIT but rather of clinicians and experts in health care documentation who can speak to the document workflow process and the complexities of capturing health stories in a way that informs clinical decision-making and promotes coordination of care. If the “meaningful use” definition is shaped only by the vendor community, there is great risk for EHR deployment to fall short of health care’s goals for capturing and consuming health information. All stakeholders, most importantly the patient, lose under such an imprudent integration approach.

More than 120 legislative appointments were held during the 2-day summit through collaborative dialogue from both MTIA business owners and AHDI health care documentation workers who met together with Senate and House members to share the importance of our quality-focused sector in accurately capturing patient health stories. We visited with legislators from 26 states and delivered letters from AHDI members to their respective legislators for 28 states. Each person had an opportunity to share the key talking points and messages prepared for the event, as well as to engage in dialogue with legislators and their aides about the role transcription can and does play in accurate capture. Likewise, we stressed the need to preserve complex narrative in the EHR so that the important nuances of a patient’s story are captured outside of restrictive point-and-click templates. Consideration must be given, as well, to the impact on clinicians who are inefficiently deployed to capture health care encounters rather than engaging in provision of care. And we talked about the value of a knowledge worker positioned in partnership with physicians to ensure the accurate, secure capture and repurposing of health information.

MTIA and AHDI will be engaging the services of a lobbying firm to push this message to the right people on the HELP committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) as well as those in HHS who will ultimately be responsible for the “meaningful use” definition. In addition, through our lobbying firm, we will continue to drive this message and our recommendations to David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health IT, so that the role of transcription is not left out of EHR integration standards, recommendations and regulations. Both medical transcription service organizations (MTSOs) and MTs will have an opportunity to contribute to and participate in this advocacy effort.

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