Preaching to the Choir at AHDI Florida

Sunrise at Fort Lauderdale Beach

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I must have been a very good girl lately, because here I am again visiting AHDI Florida whose annual meeting is, of course, right on the beautiful beach in Fort Lauderdale.  Pennsylvania has been a bit on the chilly and rainy side, so this feels pretty wonderful!

But my favorite thing about being here is the people of AHDI Florida. It must be all this sunshine, because they are so full of energy!  Their meeting this year is called, “The Winds of Change” and from my previous experiences with this group, they get that change is coming their way – and rather than bemoaning the fact – they are embracing it and making it their own.  In fact, they “get it” so well that in a way I feel like I’m cheating speaking here….I am, in effect, preaching to the choir.  🙂  But since I know the members of this group will take what they hear and will spread the gospel of dictation and transcription as enablers of electronic health information, then I can enjoy the Florida sunshine without guilt.

My presentation is titled Speech Recognition – Throw Away Everything you Thought you Knew.  In this presentation I will ask listeners to throw away a lot of common assumptions about speech recognition and transcription – including a few things I might have told them a few years ago before I joined M*Modal after some experiences with a different vendor.

Because you see – we did it wrong.  The message about speech recognition and transcription has always been about saving money, and that unfortunately has often meant decreasing MT line rates rather than looking at the many other ways the technology can be used to decrease costs. And now look where we are. We are in an era where comprehensive information is a must-have for quality and outcomes reporting, as a driver of automated clinical decision support systems, as a source of data for population health reporting, and as a foundation for technologies such as natural language processing and computer assisted coding.  But instead of promoting the fact that transcription is an excellent source of high-quality, comprehensive information which can adhere to all the content requirements a provider needs to drive other aspect of HIM and health care, we have been focused on productivity.

Many in the industry (not all!) have been focused on providing cheap documentation; not high-value documentation. They’ve been focused on print formats, not content requirements.  And worst of all, they’ve been driving down the value of our skilled medical transcriptionists causing them to leave the industry.  I actually had a service provider tell me during my trip to DC for the Advocacy Summit that hospitals aren’t reluctant to use offshore transcription anymore, not because they realized that the quality could be just as good, but because the types of errors that would have caused the cancellation of a contract ten years ago don’t even get mentioned today. In other words, it is about “cheap”; not about quality.  Folks, I’m here to tell you, the day a provider stops complaining about poor quality is the day they are telling you that you are extraneous, your documentation is not being used for anything important, and you are not long for this world.

As you all know – I don’t care if the transcription is done in the U.S., or in India, or on Mars. I don’t care if it’s being produced through traditional typing, backend speech, or telekinesis. Poor quality documentation is USELESS for all of the purposes that documentation must be used for today – from computer assisted coding to PQRS (formerly PQRI) reporting, to the use of the documentation as a communications tool for members of a patient care team in an ACO or patient-centered medical home, to the reconciliation of problem lists and creation of patient-facing summaries that is required as part of Meaningful Use, and more.  The quality MUST be there – or transcription won’t be.

Unfortunately many speech recognition vendors, and I’m sorry to say, even many transcription service organizations, continue to promote the wrong message – the message of “cheap” documentation, not valuable documentation.  Let me ask you this – if the health care provider is only giving up printed paper documents of inconsistent quality that are not being used for any purpose other than to check-off requirements on a chart completion list, when someone comes along and says, “hey, the docs can do direct-data entry into the EHR so we don’t need transcription anymore,” is the provider going to use, “but we get the transcription so cheap…” as a reason to convince the decision makers that transcription should be kept as a means of documentation?  Not hardly…

Let’s forget everything we thought we knew about speech recognition and transcription and look at it in a new light.  Let’s remember that dictation and transcription can be the accelerator of high-value electronic health information, not something that electronic information can replace.

So – all you folks out there in the choir – can I get an Amen?

All my best as always,

5 Responses

  1. AMEN sista! AMEN!

  2. AMEN, Sister!

  3. Amen!

    We are so excited to have you here at AHDI-Florida this weekend. We are having wonderful speakers here Friday and great attendance. We are ready for you! Enjoy this beautiful hotel, and we will see you tomorrow.

  4. This is a great article and I sure wish I was there to hear your presentation. It seems to not be a very popular opinion at times, but I love SR editing. I would rather edit than transcribe any day. I don’t look at it as this big bad thing taking over my job. I look at it as a tool that helps me move from report to report faster and saves a lot of wear and tear on my hands. I have the attention span of a gnat so getting through each report faster helps me stay focused.


  5. Well said, Lynn!

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