New Roles for Transcriptionists as Healthcare Documentation Specialists (HDS)
New Roles for Transcriptionists as Healthcare
Documentation Specialists (HDS)
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
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
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.
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.