Job changes coming for transcriptionists

Survey shows how EHRs are altering ways of working
By Mike Miliard
10:31 AM

Nearly 90 percent of medical transcriptionists say that transitioning to documentation roles with electronic health records means that gaps in skills need to be identified and new career paths charted, according to new a study.

New speech and language processing technologies have set the stage for a fundamental transformation in the way transcriptionists work, according to the survey – conducted by the American Health Information Management Association and the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity – which found that 87 percent of respondents are preparing for new ways of doing things.

A separate survey of transcription managers and supervisors, meanwhile, showed an overwhelming need to identify transition plans and career paths for traditional medical transcriptionists – even as 73 percent indicated no plan was currently in place, according to AHIMA and AHDI.

“The skills of a transcriptionist – to listen and be detailed- and research-oriented, with a familiarity of medical terminology and disease process – are still in critical need in HIM departments during this time of healthcare transformation,” said Lynne Thomas Gordon, chief executive officer of AHIMA, in a press statement.

“The transcriptionists that can demonstrate agility by moving into a new position can carve out a valuable niche for themselves,” she added.

The survey found that the top two job titles transcriptionists are transitioning to are chart integrity auditor and EHR technician/HIM analyst, performing direct documentation into the EHR and auditing for accuracy and completeness.

Other promising career paths within HIM for transcriptionists are coding professional and healthcare documentation technology trainer, the report suggests.

More than half of transcriptionists (53 percent) said they were "probably or definitely" willing to invest time and resources into obtaining an academic degree to transition directly into HIM roles working with the EHR, according to the survey.

“The rise of EHR is just one of many growth areas in health care where the skills of a transcriptionist will be valuable,” said Linda G. Brady, chief executive officer of AHDI. “Medical transcriptionists, also known as healthcare documentation specialists, are a valuable partner in facilitating successful transitions in how health records are documented. This workforce is well-positioned to identify important quality issues to preserve the integrity of the health record and serve as subject matter experts who can work with providers to create best documentation practices.”

Other findings from the AHIMA/AHDI survey:

[See also: Transcriptionists look to remake themselves]

  • The skills considered most important to move into the EHR were communication, quality improvement and workflow analysis.
  • Fifty-three percent of transcriptionists were somewhat willing or very willing to transition into a job in an office environment.
  • Thirty-two percent of supervisors indicated a transition plan is extremely or very important to their facility.