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EHRs Key to Transcriptionists’ New Career Paths, Survey Finds

July 10, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Eighty-seven percent of medical transcriptionists indicated that in order to transition to documentation roles in electronic health records (EHRs), new skills and knowledge gaps need to be identified, according to a survey released today by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

 New speech and language processing technologies have dramatically changed the traditional work of medical transcriptionists, the health information professionals who prepare the records of patients’ health stories from clinicians’ dictations.

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

“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,” AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon said in a statement. “The transcriptionists that can demonstrate agility by moving into a new position can carve out a valuable niche for themselves.”

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.

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.

Other survey findings included:

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