Let’s Talk About…
In an era of transition and change, the healthcare documentation industry faces critical challenges and decisions. Healthcare system reform, regulatory oversight, shifting and emerging roles, competing technologies, and the pressures of a global marketplace combine to present a daunting prospect for our sector. Where will the traditional medical transcription and emerging healthcare documentation professions fit in the future of healthcare delivery? What opportunities and challenges need our immediate and long-term attention? What is AHDI doing to usher our workforce and other stakeholders through these changes? Where do we need more engagement, better resources, or subject matter expertise?
The AHDI Leadership Board has always felt the best responses to a changing environment can be built using a collaborative, purposeful approach – one that pulls all participants into an ongoing dialogue. To that end, in 2011 we launched a series of open letters, Town Hall forums, and online exchanges to advance the dialogue on critical issues facing our profession today.
What is presented below is a series of Town Hall meeting recordings coupled with more detailed open letters on several issues of key importance for our members and for all health documentation practitioners. Former AHDI directors guided the Town Hall discussions and have authored the accompanying open letters in the hope of sparking meaningful debate, healthy discourse, and potential solutions for our sector.
This kind of dynamic collaboration is a key strategy for maximizing opportunities and meeting challenges together as we all move into the future. We hope you, our members and our healthcare documentation community, will listen and read attentively, think carefully, and engage proactively.
Emerging Roles in Clinical Documentation
This Let’s Talk About section begins with a recording of the February 2011 Town Hall Meeting in which AHDI directors Kristin Hagen and Sherry Doggett discuss ways that medical transcriptionists and healthcare documentation specialists can plan and guide their own evolution into new roles in the changing workplace. Kristin and Sherry also take questions from the Town Hall audience, responding to the concerns of both students and seasoned practitioners. The Open Letter documents in this section are authored by directors Kristin Hagen, Ava George, and Brett McCutcheon. These essays discuss in detail some of the significant workplace changes that continue to impact our community today: The emergence of medical scribes as a new type of healthcare documentation practitioner, the impact of speech recognition technology and concomitant emergence of speech recognition editing, also a fairly new (and growing) practice in healthcare documentation, and key employment issues that will challenge both employers and practitioners into the future.
AHDI continues to engage with many of the issues outlined in this section. In 2013, for example, the association launched revised credentials and credentialing examinations to include both editing skills and technical knowledge. For more information, go to the Certification section of AHDI’s website. For statements of AHDI positions on compensation, see the Professional Practices/AHDI Position Statements area of the website. For more information about speech recognition and the editing role, refer to Speech Recognition Technology.
Town Hall Meeting Recording (February 15, 2011): Let's Talk About - Emerging Roles in Clinical Documentation
The Transcription Marketplace
This section of Let’s Talk About begins with the recording of a March 2011 Town Hall Meeting focused on the current and evolving marketplace for healthcare documentation specialists/medical transcriptionists. In this recording, AHDI directors Susan Lucci and Karen Fox address the bread-and-butter economic and market realities underlying outsourcing and off-shoring. Susan and Karen take audience questions and comments, providing frank and useful information that can help practitioners understand the changing global market for their skills. In the accompanying open letters, Susan presents more detailed information about outsourcing and offshoring trends, including the effects of federal legislation and related developments; Karen discusses the facts and controversies surrounding offshoring of transcription services and provides a glimpse of the politics behind one legislative struggle over this issue; and director Sherry Doggett explores health documentation ethical best practice in an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment with a global reach.
These topics remain important for AHDI members and all healthcare documentation practitioners. In January 2012, AHDI and Bentley University published the results of the 2011 EHR Future Roles Survey, developed by a team of academic researchers in collaboration with AHDI’s Managers and Supervisors Alliance; this survey report can be found on AHDI’s web site at Professional Practices > Surveys and Research. Also see “Healthcare and the Electronic IT Revolution." An important first step in preparing for a changing workplace might be to take AHDI’s course “Mastering the Electronic Health Record.” AHDI members will find numerous articles in Plexus that carry on the discussion of market and workplace developments and trends. The September/October 2013 issue presents and analyzes a landmark lawsuit (“The Juno Case”) demonstrating a real-world intersection of global markets with changing healthcare documentation environments and the quality of patient care. And the theme of the November/December 2013 issue is “Career Paths,” with articles about current and future healthcare documentation roles.
Town Hall Meeting Recording (March 15, 2011): Let's Talk About - The Transcription Marketplace
The Value of Association
In this section of the Let’s Talk About series, four AHDI directors (among them three past presidents) discuss some of the multiple roles of AHDI, particularly in terms of advocating for the narrative health story, patient safety, and the critical importance of an educated, credentialed and empowered healthcare documentation workforce. Barb Marques presents in detail what exactly a professional association such as AHDI can and cannot do in terms of globalization, technological change, compensation, credentialing and professional development. In the second letter, Kristin Hagen and Susan Lucci tackle the complexities and increasing importance of quality assurance in an electronic and global environment. Inside their letter are several links to key documents and studies relating to quality best practices. Finally, Karen Fox explains some of the planning and activities AHDI undertakes in advocating and building alliances to further association goals of healthcare documentation quality and patient safety. Karen’s letter also contains numerous links to other resources related to these topics.
Clearly, association and advocacy remain important for healthcare documentation workers, providers, and patients. In fact, the increasing reach of electronic health record systems and concomitant innovations have only increased the necessity to focus on these issues, and AHDI continues to foreground them. In the AHDI Lounge, take special note of AHDI President Jill Devrick’s February 2014 exchanges on the topic of quality and quality assurance workflow with a panel of current and former National Coordinators for Health Information. In the face of many kinds of challenges, AHDI has consistently increased our national regulatory and legislative presence. For a snapshot of association activities in these areas (and others), please visit the Timeline of Accomplishments web page and read the “2013 Timeline of Accomplishments.”
Town Hall Meeting (April 19, 2011) Recording not available
Professional Credentialing – The Future of MT
In this Let’s Talk About section, Director Brett McCutcheon hosts a Town Hall meeting on the subject of credentialing, explaining the meaning and purpose of certification, and presiding over a lively discussion among meeting participants. This interesting recording is strongly oriented to audience participation, and features a number of practitioners who present their own professional and career stories and trajectories, commenting frankly on attitudes in the marketplace toward credentialing and on other related questions. The accompanying open letter in this section authored by directors Sherry Doggett and Kristin Hagen addresses the important question of credentials held by AHDI directors themselves, making the argument that the association embraces both leadership and membership diversity.
The imperatives and issues around credentialing of healthcare documentation professionals continue to be of major concern for AHDI, its members, and the healthcare documentation community. Evolving roles in healthcare documentation have led AHDI to revise and update both credentialing exams and credential branding in 2013. See “Rebranding AHDI Credentialing Exams.” These important changes have the purpose of encompassing new skill sets and refocusing attention on specific aspects of documentation practice. The growth and evolution of AHDI’s credentials to date are presented in detail on the web page at Certification, including some specific information about how employers are currently viewing the credentialed workforce under the heading of “Who Cares If You’re Certified?” For comprehensive up-to-date information about becoming certified, refer to the “Credentialing Candidate Guide.”
Town Hall Meeting Recording (May 17, 2011): Let's Talk About - Professional Credentialing
Acting on a firm commitment to collaboration and dialog, AHDI has sponsored the Let’s Talk About series of town meetings and open letters. As described above, that commitment remains strong, and the association continues to offer a variety of forums and avenues for all healthcare practitioners to participate and to be heard. The issues discussed in the series continue to be important areas for AHDI action, and the association encourages all our community members to step forward, use our resources, and constructively express opinions on these and any other significant issues of concern.
To follow and participate in the dialogue, join us in the AHDI Lounge as we continue to explore these critical subjects.