Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Medical transcriptionist musings

A few years ago, I wrote my observations about physicians offices and how they are handling entering patient information into the electronic medical record.

I have been a medical transcriptionist for over 25 years now, working mostly for doctor's offices and clinics although I did do work for a rehabilitation hospital for a time as well. After high school I went into a medical assisting program and then after a few years I also completed work to become a registered medical records technician. I had a lot of course work in anatomy and physiology as well as medical terminology, disease pathology and pharmacology. I can also type over 100 words per minute. Medical transcription was a good job for me and at the time it was also a respected and well paying profession.

Those days are over.

In my personal experience over the past five years, I find the health care providers I see (or that see my children) spend as much or MORE time with their attention to their lap tops than they do face timing me. During my last review of systems, the doctor was whizzing through the questions so quickly I hardly had time to  think before answering.  Ironically, the provider that gave me the most care in terms of having an actual conversation, was the podiatrist!

But last week I had the most interesting office visit. An LPN took us back to a room and asked the usual questions, and then she started typing into the lap top.  She wasn't just checking off boxes or filling in a template, she was actually typing the report.  She called it, "free typing."  As a medical transcriptionist, we were NEVER EVER allowed to just make stuff up, let alone compose a report by ourselves!  Yet here was a licensed practical nurse (whom I might add typed considerably less than 100 wpm) doing just that.

Oh, and I got the honor of sitting in the room watching her type the report too, which added 5 to 10 minutes to the total visit time. In the olden days the patient didn't even see the person typing his medical report let alone have to wait in the same room while it was being done!

Time saving?  No.  Cost effective?  Probably not.  Those 5 to 10 minutes per patient add up.  Probably one or two more patients could have been seen at the end of the day if the room wasn't occupied for records creation by the care provider.
NEC-Medical-137
NEC Corp of America via Flickr  Licensed by Creative Commons

On another note, although the EMR is probably going to get rid of medical transcription as a profession, it has created a new job - that of Medical Scribe.  Oh, but it's not an associate degree or even a BS degree-type skilled job.

No!  This person follows the doctor around and enters the information into the computer for him or her.  I've seen they prefer medical students, but apparently also others.  They even have their own accreditation - for what is basically a data entry job. Was that really a cost savings?  I doubt it.

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