As we start a brand new year, it is going to be particularly important to take notice of all that is happening in healthcare documentation. The sense of urgency for hospitals and providers to adopt EHR technology is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down, despite the challenges, expenses and the myriad of complexities also known as meaningful use.
So what is an MT to do? Do we just go through our normal day and hope that our job is not the one eliminated? Or should we look at credentials, education and find new roles that we can do? Personally, I think it is a mistake if we don’t get active in taking a long, hard look at this head-on instead of hoping that we can ride the wave to the shore.We have heard for years that medical transcription and coding are similar (from the standpoint of clinical knowledge) and yet they remain, for the most part, very separate processes. It seems prudent to revisit these 2 tasks and see how we might bring them closer together in an effort to gain efficiencies and speed up the billing process. Having worked as both a coder and a transcriptionist, I know the skill sets are very similar. We must know and understand the language of medicine, A&P, pharmacology, disease process and so much more.
Even aside from the obvious coding option, there are others that come to mind. For those who aren’t necessarily resigned by geographics or other requirements to working at home, becoming a scribe may be an option. There are probably individuals working as scribes who will tell you it isn’t the same job and I completely acknowledge that it’s not the same, however, it still comes back to all the medical knowledge and then training to perform the tasks that the physician needs for entry into the EHR. It can be learned, and you clearly have a huge head start.
Then what about analytics, quality reporting and a host of other tasks that we can learn? There are many options, and AHDI is exploring these with several current initiatives, but there is one step first. We need to understand that much of what will take place when the nation’s healthcare goes electronic hasn’t quite yet been fully determined. The roles are still being discovered. So the potential is there — and it won’t come without additional training, possible college preparation and credentials. This is just simply a call to keep eyes and possibilities wide open.
What can you do today? Start learning all you can about these new systems and keep your networks strong. Be informed and don’t be afraid to consider going back to school. At a time when I thought I wouldn’t need to go back to school, I find myself today enrolled at the University of Cincinnati in their BS HIM program to convert my RHIT to RHIA. Funny thing is that I looked into this program back in 2006 and decided not to do it, because I didn’t think I needed to. Of course the enrollment advisor reminded me that had I done it then, I would already have gradutated. I guess the moral of this story is never say never – you might be surprised by the necessities in an evolving career!