Medical Transcription Programs: How to Find a Trusted Transcriptionist
Medical transcription as an industry has no governing body — no regulated standards, no required training — so how do healthcare providers find a transcriptionist they can trust to augment their ever-increasing documentation load?
Medical Transcription Programs: How to Find a Trusted Transcriptionist
Medical transcriptionists are professionals who convert medical reports and other patient-related information from audio to text format. Medical transcriptionists allow healthcare providers to focus more intently on their patients during a visit by helping augment their medical documentation load. While the practice of medical transcription has been around for hundreds of years, the industry exploded in the United States in the early 2010’s when federal regulations entirely changed health record keeping and medical documentation parameters. But as the documentation load has only increased in the years since, many providers have struggled to find transcriptionists who are qualified to meet their growing needs. Moreover, without any cut and dry standards, or obvious medical transcription training programs, or a clear career pipeline, it can sometimes be difficult for individual providers to find the right transcriptionist.
This is in large part due to the fact that while the federal government instituted new standards for health record keeping, documentation, and billing, they failed to establish any support infrastructure that helped meet those new standards. As such, medical transcription (and other documentation aids for that matter) exist without any regulating body. This means that there’s no system — no training programs, no certifications — in place to ensure healthcare providers are hiring trained medical transcriptionists.
Today, many third party medical transcription companies now require, at the very least, some level of postsecondary education or transcriptionist training. But, perhaps obviously, these transcriptionist companies have vested interest in ensuring their employees are meeting a higher standard, so these requirements aren’t always indicative of the actual skills or qualifications of an individual transcriptionist. At the end of the day, what transcriptionist training programs exist to ensure that providers are hiring employees that they can trust?
While it is true that there is no "official" ruling body for medical transcription in the United States, The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) is widely considered to be the most trusted professional organization for medical transcriptionist training. Founded in 1978, the AHDI's core aim is to "lead, educate, and advocate for professional excellence and integrity in all aspects of healthcare documentation practices worldwide." In the years since, the AHDI has become the defacto body for standardizing transcription and other healthcare documentation.
While the AHDI offers their own unique certificates and credential programs, they also partner with schools and other independent medical transcription training programs around the country. The AHDI evaluates and approves qualifying programs that meet their strict curriculum standards and guidelines. As a provider, if you're looking to hire a medical transcriptionist, a candidate with a certificate from an AHDI accredited program is always a good sign.
That being said, the AHDI also offers a number of secondary and tertiary certification programs for medical transcriptionists. The two most popular are the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) credential and the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) credential. The former requires completion of at least two years of experience in an acute care setting as well as a standardized exam. The RHDS is a prerequisite of applying and obtaining CHDS credentials. Either of these additional certificates are a great marker of a candidate who is ready to take over as a healthcare documentation or workflow specialist. Yet even with a trained transcriptionist, the nature of remote work and increasing labor costs is shifting the medical transcription landscape, and unearthing more and more problems along the way.
Medical Transcription and Increasing Data Risks
Growing evidence shows that clinicians who use a third party medical transcription company face increased risks as they relate to documentation errors, malpractice culpability, and PHI security. Now, for the first time ever, care providers are being held responsible for data breaches or documentation errors for which they are not directly at fault. This is in large part due to the Department of Health and Office for Civil Rights tightening regulations surrounding third party documentation services.
Historically, HIPAA regulations held "data holders" responsible for data breaches or documentation errors. Now, as the medical transcription industry is off-shoring labor and moving virtual, the OCR is responding by reinforcing its regulations. In a groundbreaking case from 2020, a New Jersey ruling held a medical organization responsible for a transcription-related data breach that affected over 1,500 patients in the United States. The reasoning? Failure on behalf of the care organization to properly perform an adequate risk assessment of their third party partner. In short, HIPAA and the OCR can't enforce penalties on third party companies that operate overseas. So, now it's up to individual clinicians and larger care networks to do their proper research and risk assessments prior to any agreements.
Recommended Reading: Pros and Cons to Medical Transcription
Declining Medical Transcription Jobs
Combining this hassle and risk with an ever-increasing documentation load that not even transcriptionists can truly augment anymore, providers around the world are beginning to move away from medical transcriptionists altogether. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that over the next 10 years medical transcriptionist jobs will decrease by 7%. Conversely, they predict a significant uptick in other documentation and workflow support roles like Medical Assistants (18% increase), Medical Record Specialists (9% increase), Operations and Research Analysts (25% increase) and Medical and Health Service Managers (32% increase).
In other words, as the documentation load increases and the administrative burden persists, traditional medical transcriptionists are no longer meeting the mark. That's what labor data shows us, that's what experts are telling us, and that's what record investment into digital health and workflow optimization tools suggest. So, what then?
DeepScribe is the first fully ambient AI medical scribe. Using deep technology and AI, DeepScribe listens to you and your patient speak during the visit, filters out the small talk and extracts the medically relevant info, and then summarizes that information into complete notes that integrate directly into your EHR or EMR. This means that you can finally complete your medical documentation without any transcription, without any dictation, without any typing, and without any vocal prompting.
With DeepScribe, you can finally get out ahead of the documentation burden and increase your patient load without having to worry about how you'll keep up. Most importantly, though, DeepScribe allows you to focus on what likely led you to medicine in the first place: providing engaged, quality care.