What I’m Thankful For..

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

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Hello everyone: On this Thanksgiving morning I remembered that I didn’t write the usual “I’m thankful for” blog post.   So here it is!

What I’m thankful for:

1. My beautiful daughter – who somehow grew up to be an amazing cook. She did not inherit that from me but regardless – I am sitting here writing and doing schoolwork instead of cooking on this Thanksgiving Day. And her turkey is SO good that I look forward to it all year.

2. My creative son – poet and budding philosopher. No, his chosen fields of study don’t guarantee him a job (I don’t remember seeing any job ads for poets or philosophers recently) but that makes me even more proud of him.

3. Hubby – the unbelievable man who keeps this head-in-the-clouds scatter-brain from running out of gas  – both literally and figuratively.  I don’t know how I ever made it through a week before he came into my life.

4. Education – I’m thankful that both children are back in school – and surprisingly, I’m now thankful they took a few years off before going back because now, instead of going through a few years of partying followed by a degree like many college kids do, they are honestly interested in what they are learning. My son is passionate about philosophy and about world religions (enough so that he has 3 of them permanently represented on his body in ink) and my daughter has developed a new-found love of history.   Unlike their mother who regrets abandoning her love of Yeats for the job market every day of her life, they have the courage of conviction to follow their hearts instead of going for the guaranteed job-finding degree, and I admire that.  And yes, I’m thankful that I finally got myself back to school!

5.  Health information –  we have a lot of debate and many challenges coming our way – but what an exciting time to be in health information!  And the reason there are debates is because there are a lot of passionate people in this field – and the more of them I get to know, the more I love being one of  them.  I am thankful for our M*Modal partners, for the industry organizations, for the universities, and for the providers who are all part of an exciting industry.

6.  Women – of course I’m thankful for men too, but being part of the transcription and health information fields which are full of so many talented wonderful women, and being introduced to groups like the PghTech Women’s Network and Disruptive Women in Healthcare, makes me realize how far we’ve come in the last few decades.  Hey, the days of Mad Men were not that long ago…

7. M*Modal – the amazingly innovative little company-who-could who alone in the crowd stands up against the giant Nuance. And unlike the aforementioned conglomerate, M*Modal is a group of brilliant, humble dreamers who quietly come up with innovative ideas that blow everyone away as though the ideas are just hanging out behind trees.  Seriously, how many of us get to say we get to work for a company of dreamers?  They gave me a home, gave me a voice, gave me a cause.  They let me say anything I want to say even if what I say is not always the smart thing from a marketing perspective. Why? Because they believe more in people and healthcare than they do in marketing.

So, we have lots of work to do as 2010 winds down, and we have many challenges coming our way in 2011. But I’m betting next year will bring even more to be thankful for….

I wish you all the best for the holidays…
Lynn

Learn How to Meet Early Meaningful Use Requirements

From AHDI/MTIA Vitals newsletter…

The Health Story Project: Exchange Basic Records and Meet Early Meaningful Use Requirements (Part II)

Please join the Health Story Project for a special webinar presentation Wednesday, December 1, 2010; 10:00-11:00 AM Eastern.

Over a billion clinical notes are created by physicians in the U.S. each year. With standards, the output can easily integrate with EMRs/HIEs and provide a glide path to interoperability. The Health Story Project is an industry collaboration working to accelerate the development and adoption of standards for electronic clinical documents using HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) and Continuity of Care Document (CCD) templates. Learn how use of these standards support ARRA requirements for meaningful use for exchanging basic records – even prior to EMR system adoption. And, discover the benefits of the Health Story approach, including minimal disruption to workflow, physician acceptance, leveraging current technology investments and offering easy access to the right information. Can your system support this strategy? Learn how to get started.

Presenters include Bob Dolin, MD, Chair, HL7 International and Principal, Semantically Yours, LLC and Liora Alschuler, Health Story Executive Committee Member and Principal, Alschuler Associates, LLC.

Register Now

Please let us know if you are interested in an update yet unable to make the webinar.

Brought to you by:
Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI)
Clinical Documentation Industry Association (CDIA)
The Health Story Project
HL7 International

On behalf of the Health Story Project
Integrating Narrative Notes and the EHR
www.healthstory.com

Meaningful Use – Again with Meaning Please…

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...

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Take a look at Dr. O’Connor’s post, Meaningful Use – Doctors have no choice.

Dr. O’Connor is a supporter of the EHR and was an early adopter. No one can seriously claim that making accurate health information readily accessible and available for the collaborative care of the patient is a bad thing – but who has been given the choice about how “meaningful use” of the EHR is being mandated? Who decided what “meaningful use” is? Meaningful to whom? The patients? The doctors?

There are many great things about meaningful use – the idea of updated and available problem lists, allergies, and medication lists alone has potential for tremendous benefit. But we have to be concerned with how meaningful use is being deployed. Have we really worked out, for example, the workflow behind the reconciliation of problem lists before making it a mandate for physicians?

Dr. O’Connor’s article, along with descriptions of patient experiences, including my own and the one described by Robin Daigh on MD-IT’s blog seems to support the need to consider the patient – and the doctor – when determining what is truly “meaningful” when it comes to health information.

Til next time,
Lynn

Medical Transcription is Green…

The carbon footprint.

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Hello all:  As a former card-carrying member of  many environment groups, I was really interested to see Jay’s post on AHDI Lounge from yesterday!

I knew medical transcription was an important part of healthcare but I don’t think it occurred to me to think of it as green. But of course it is! We work remotely decreasing our carbon footprints significantly by eliminating all the driving, we encourage electronic exchange of information and at least are trying to get our facilities to use less paper, toner, etc. There are probably a million other ways that we contribute to the greening of the world too!

See Jay’s post here for all the scoop….

Kudos to Debbie Bright-Chunn for setting the Louisiana State University Public Policy Research Lab straight on this one!

Til next time,
Lynn

Lynn’s HIM Back-to-School Update

US medical groups' adoption of EHR (2005)

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Given the changes facing us in this field, graduates from modern HIM programs will be valuable additions to our HIM and HIT teams. I hope so – because (since I never finished the program I started many years ago for various reasons) I’m officially taking classes again now. And how FUN it is to take classes that are immediately relevant to what I do on the job every day. How often do we get to say that about classes we might take towards a particular degree program? I can tell you that I don’t use 85% of what I learned in my project management classes. And much of what I learned during the time when I thought I’d grow up to be an English teacher? Well, as much as I love him, let’s just say I’ve never been called upon to quote Yeats in my life.

I can tell you this for sure – I thought some of my coursework was going to be easy because I took the same or similar classes a long time ago. Well guess what – this is not your father’s HIM program. 🙂 I was originally annoyed that so many of my old classes had to be repeated. Now I am glad!

I honestly feel as though the majority of coursework I’ll be doing in my HIM program will be absolutely useful to me. My only concern is whether or not I can keep up with the – ahem – somewhat younger students. But I plan to give my two children – also college students – some competition for the best grades on the refrigerator in the Kosegi kitchen.

I’ll be interested to see how HIM education keeps pace with the changes coming to healthcare and particularly to health information. Everyone now is concerned about teaching ICD-10 instead of ICD-9. That’s a given. What will HIM personnel need to know about Meaningful Use? About measuring quality outcomes?

And of course we all know that for a number of years HIM will be living in a hybrid world consisting of both paper and electronic records and facilities that have reached varying stages of Meaningful Use compliance. We will also need to handle information that has been coded using ICD-9 along with information that has been coded using ICD-10. After all, even if we do effectively flip the switch and convert from ICD-9 to ICD-10 in one day, there is no magic “easy button” that will retroactively re-code the information that was coded yesterday.

I mentioned previously that something that concerns me a bit is that the HIM students I’ve talked to over the past few months don’t want to go to work for hospitals or other healthcare providers. They want to work for technology companies. The reason for this seems to be that the technology world is forward thinking and exciting whereas the HIM departments that they’re exposed to during their clinicals are backwards, resistant to change. The students I speak with see a lot of paper on these clinicals and a lot of backwards appearing processes. What I say however is that the reason these departments are engaging in seemingly backwards ways of doing things may not be that the users are resistant to new ways of thinking. It may be that the technology available to them doesn’t serve their needs. If they are printing information from the EMR and matching it with other paper documentation to make a complete record – isn’t it possible that this is because the EMR isn’t providing the workflow that meets the needs of both clinicians and the HIM personnel?

So what can we do to counter the impression that HIM in the provider realm is boring and backward thinking while technology is exciting and progressive? Here are a couple of things that might help:

  • Don’t be an obstacle to change! Yes, speak up about change that doesn’t make sense – but don’t object to change just for the sake of objecting. Show those who are new to the field that we bring something special to the table – an understanding of the real needs of users of health information – in addition to our ability to learn and implement new ways.
  • Think about health information from a holistic perspective. We talked before about how all of the various stakeholders in the HIM process focus on their own unique challenges. Transcription providers, coders, billers, HIM correspondence personnel (for whom ROI means release of information), hospital finance personnel (for whom ROI means return on investment), auditors, CDI specialists, technology vendors, and of course clinicians – we all separate the larger topic of health information into the pieces that directly affect us. Let’s look at the discussions taking place in groups outside our own to get a better idea of what “quality” health information really means.
  • Educate ourselves. There is a wealth of information out there that will help those who live in the reality of the HIM today to prepare for tomorrow.

Here are a few excellent sources of information to get you started:

AHIMA Body of Knowledge: If you aren’t a member of AHIMA, join. They have a wealth of information available covering a wide variety of topics including a Meaningful Use Vocabulary Toolkit made available in late October.

• CMS –in particular, their Quality of Care Center

CCHIT’s EHR blog

Disruptive Women in Health – they often have links to great information.

Kaiser Health News

Maybe we “old schoolers” can show the folks who are new to the field that we too can be forward thinkers…

Til next time,
Lynn

AHDI West – Petition to Legislators for Transcription in Meaningful Use

Hello:  Take a look at Jay’s latest post on AHDI Lounge.  He draws attention to ADHI West’s online petition to consider transcription as a valued part of Meaningful Use….

AHDI-West Online Petition Advocates For Inclusion  Of  MT  In Meaningful Use Criteria

The Western Region of the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI-West) has created an online petition directed at federal legislators:

We petition your continued support in these urgent times by communicating with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, seeking acknowledgment in regulations that the dictation-transcription process and structured narrative reports are recognized as vital elements of electronic health records (EHR), are included in the definition of “meaningful use”, and recognized as essential for ensuring patient safety.

The petition can be electronically signed online.

Jay Vance, CMT
AHDI Lounge Administrator/Moderator

Thanks AHDI West for taking such an important step! And thanks as always to Jay for bringing it to our attention.

-Lynn

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