New Roles for Transcriptionists as Healthcare Documentation Specialists (HDS)


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The article describes how the role of the medical transcriptionist is evolving beyond traditional transcription to the new role of “healthcare documentation specialist.

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New Roles for Transcriptionists as Healthcare Documentation Specialists (HDS)

  1. 1. New Roles for Transcriptionists as Healthcare Documentation Specialists (HDS)
  2. 2. The introduction of electronic health records (EHR) and speech recognition technology has brought about a dramatic improvement in the cost and quality of healthcare. Though speech recognition and EHR technology have minimized the demand for traditional medical transcription services, professional medical transcriptionists are still in demand as editors of the output of the EMR system to ensure accuracy. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) identified this new trend towards open roles and promoted the new title of “Healthcare Documentation Specialists (HDS)” as an umbrella description for those individuals who are involved in the process of healthcare documentation. A healthcare documentation specialist analyzes and tracks prominent quality issues affecting the integrity of health records. They serve as subject matter experts who work with healthcare providers to ensure best documentation practices. Preparing for the New Role Transcriptionists themselves are looking forward to assuming these new roles and preparing themselves to adapt to the new changes happening within the medical transcription field. With the winds of change blowing in the medical transcription field, HDS are searching for new domains (other than traditional transcription) wherein they can effectively apply their knowledge of healthcare documentation. For instance, they can take the role of medical transcription training providers. Many medical transcriptionists play dual roles – they are engaged in transcription when not doing training. Some of the new and part time roles they normally take up include – assisting the coding department, data entry, researching claims (that require additional details before submitting final claims). There are some others who take up full-time roles in areas such as quality assurance (QA), auditing and IT support and training. Medical coding is an important area which a number of HDS want to take up as the specific knowledge and skills required in this field are somewhat related to medical transcription. In order to move into their new role as coders, transcriptionists must acquire excellent understanding about medical coding and payer requirements among other related aspects.
  3. 3. Key Skills Normally, physicians may use medical jargon, abbreviations and highly technical terminology in their dictations. Good transcriptionists will have a thorough knowledge of the subject. However, people with a medical transcription background need to have certain other skills beyond knowledge in medical terminology and keyboarding. They should have critical thinking skills and problem solving ability as well. In addition, the transcription should be done in an accurate and precise manner. This is a key skill that is very crucial especially when moving towards the electronic health record (EHR) system. Healthcare provider organizations feel that medical transcriptionists are a perfect fit for EHR documentation roles as they have adequate knowledge of medical terms, abbreviations, common misspellings, incorrect medications and dosages. They have a significant role in finding and solving documentation issues that can significantly impact patient safety and compliance. Healthcare documentation specialists who have successfully tackled the uncertainty of moving outside their comfort zones are quite happy about their experiences with their new roles. Most of the people are excited about their challenging career which will allow them to use the transcription and computer skills that they learned as transcriptionists and improve on them. As the need of top quality and accurate medical record documentation is becoming the focus of health information systems, the future of healthcare documentation specialists (HDS) is certainly challenging. Every aspect of healthcare is in constant flux and medical transcriptionists and medical transcription companies will surely adapt to the new roles that are required of them.