Category Archives: Research

It Doesn’t Take a Harvard MBA to See The Value Of Today’s Medical Scribes

In a recent article by Patricia Kirk, published on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 by the enews/management briefing service Dark Daily, the article makes reference to a claim made by EHR vendors who “contend that the need for medical scribes is temporary because eventually EHR use will evolve in ways that will make scribes obsolete.”

I hope not for a number of reasons.

First off, with a well-documented shortage of well-trained physicians I cannot imagine a scenario where we as a country would want to burden our scarce resource of physicians with the responsibility of doing data entry.  As I have said before this would be analogous to having the CEO of Macy’s operate a cash register or having Tom Brady work the concession stand at half-time.  Unless I was doing some type of wacky marketing thing, if I owned stock in Macy’s (which I do not) or the owner of the New England Patriots (which I am not) I would certainly want to make sure I was getting the most value from my investment and having doctors doing data entry is clearly not the solution. I bet getting the most value from an investment is taught on a regular basis at Harvard!

Secondly, and this one might get a chuckle from many readers, if Obamacare truly increases the number of people with health insurance (40M more people) and those newly enrolled seek additional healthcare services what physician is going to have time to provide these additional services and do the increased level of administrative tasks associated here? This is simply a question of supply and demand…another topic I am sure is taught at Harvard.

And finally, one of the biggest reasons it doesn’t take an MBA from Harvard to see the value of today’s medical scribes is simply this…you do not lower the cost of healthcare by replacing a $12 – $20 per hour resource (a medical scribe or a medical transcriptionist) with a $200 – $500 per hour resource (the physician).  That’s madness and begs the question, why aren’t more hospital CEOs, CFOs, CIOs and physicians themselves seeing this?

To effectively lower the cost of healthcare we need to have the right people, with the right tools (technology), in the right roles, doing the most cost effective work possible.  This includes Healthcare Documentation Specialists of all types, including Medical Scribes and Medical Transcriptionists.  This is why it doesn’t take a Harvard MBA to see the value of today’s medical scribes!

Read more: Medical Scribes Move Outside the ER to Help Clinicians in Other Healthcare Settings Make the Switch From Paper Charts to EHRs

Windows XP End of Life and HITECH/HIPAA Compliance

Windows XP was released August 24, 2001 (yeah a long, long time ago) and has been widely adopted by both home users and corporate users alike. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will discontinue support and not release any security patches for Windows XP, which will effectively make it non-compliant with HIPAA / HITECH. After April 8, 2014, users running Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3  or earlier will become vulnerable to attacks as hackers work to reverse engineer the last security patches. This includes both security and “non-security” hot fixes, free or paid support options and online technical content updates.

I am sure there are a lot of users in our industry who still run the old trusted and familiar OS but the time for its replacement is now. The biggest issue will be the vendor support of the various transcription applications and their ability to work with the newer versions of Windows. The majority should now will work with Windows 7 but as most of you know by now Windows 8 is the current version of Windows available. (I wrote about this some time ago so feel free to read that post as well). Application vendors should be hard at work updating their applications to work properly with newer versions of Windows and the included web browsers.

The upgrade process is typically painless and Windows will update itself with the new version when you purchase the upgrade version of the OS.  It  will update itself and keep your applications and data intact. Of course this could be a great excuse to finally get that fast new PC you have been wanting for a while too!

I would recommend any Windows XP users out there start looking to upgrade now and get with the appropriate application vendors or your company IT departments to inquire about the availability of application updates that will work with the new Windows (7 or 8) and get ahead of the curve before it happens. IT departments will be busy in the coming months getting this issue addressed within their organizations to maintain compliance. So the sooner you are ready for this coming change the better.

 

Windows 8 in the Transcription Industry. Tips and Information

As it goes with technology, Microsoft and others continually update their operating systems to add new features and security.  From time to time they change the whole user interface (UI) to a new look and feel but typically the changes are minor. This is not the case with Windows 8. Microsoft has totally revamped the UI with this build to get in line with their tablets and phones.  In the transcription environment the “Modern interface” (previously called “Metro” ) is not optimal for getting work done nor are the transcription applications  available in the Modern versions. Luckily  Microsoft kept the old Desktop functionality but made it an application (app) . Once you open the Desktop app, you will find yourself in the old familiar screen where you used to ‘live’. While this mode is almost the exact same as Windows 7, there are a few differences.

The missing Start Menu is the most notable change you will notice. Now if you hover your mouse in the lower left corner you will have an option to go back to the start screen  (Modern view), where you can simply start typing the name of whatever app or document you need and Windows search will find it for you. Secondly, some older applications especially transcription applications may refuse to install or run citing an “invalid or wrong version of Windows”. A lot of the time you can simply right click the application, select  properties, then the compatibility tab. From there you have an option to run the application in compatibility mode. When this option is checked you will see in the dropdown options from Windows 95 to Windows 7.  I would recommend using the most current version  you can and work backwards.  Doing this will most times allow the application to run in Windows 8 without issue. There are certainly times when this wont work and you have no choice but to get the most current version that is certified for Windows 8 from the vendor. Some vendors may not have a Windows 8 version as of yet and in that case you may have to use another PC with an older version of Windows until they do.

Lastly  while I would recommend users to learn the new ways to navigate each version of Windows in its native format, this time since its such a drastic change I have a few recommendations that may help. Since all the applications that are used for medical transcription will be running in the desktop anyway, there are 3rd party options to put the start menu back!  Most of these will allow you to boot directly to the desktop and skip the Modern start screen altogether. They also add back your programs to the menu so you can access them like you are used to. There are a few different versions but the most popular I have run across are Start Menu 8 and Classic Shell. Both are easy to install and configure.

So while Windows 8 is becoming more and more popular and about all you can get when you purchase a new pc, all is not 100% lost. I hope this information helps you remain productive and less frustrated in the new Windows 8 world!

Coding/Billing Certifications…..Do you have one?

Have you looked in the paper lately for a position in the coding or billing field?  Maybe researched the internet for either of these types of positions recently?  Sometimes it can be hard to locate a specific position depending on how the perspective employer has the opening posted  for those searching for employment, so one challenge would be to know how to search for the position you are interested in to start.  The medical profession is more than just billing and coding.  There are many different facets that encompass those two terms.  When you are looking at coding you generally have your inpatient facility coders, your outpatient facility coders and your physician coders. The coding positions break out into a few more levels from here but these are the basic threads when you start talking about coding.

From the billing aspect, there are many different facets that fall under this term and many are often overlooked.  You would find your registration specialist (which may also be known as your intake specialist and depending on the environment your front desk receptionist),  referral specialist, surgery scheduling specialist (or coordinator),  appointment scheduler, data entry clerk, insurance claims reviewer, claims processer, customer service specialist, accounts receivable specialist and the can carry on from there as well. As you can see if you work in the environment or if you are getting ready to enter the environment there are many different pathways you can select, the options are plentiful and many if you have at least one thing.  That one thing happens to be the one item that most positions are searching for today in some realm and that would be a certification.  Some employers depending on the pathway you select are looking for the completion of a billing and coding program or an Associate’s degree depending on the employers accreditation requirements.  There are still some positions that are still accepting just a high school diploma or the equivalent which is wonderful but you are starting to find that those positions are becoming fewer and far between.

So, how do you decide on a certification? Which certification should you get? Is there one better than the other?  This is a decision that only you can really make for yourself.  The best way to make this decision is to gather the facts together so that you can make the best educated decision that you can that will benefit you for what you are looking to do in this profession.  Can you have more than one certification? Yes, you can and you will find that many certified individuals in the profession are cross-certified holding certifications with different organizations.  We all made decisions that best suited us for our needs and you will need to do the same.  So here is a brief road map for you to review the most popular certifying organizations that are commonly known to give you an idea of what you are working with.  Just for the sake of documenting, I will list the organizations out in alphabetic order as it is easier to keep track that way when providing details.

American Academy of Professional Coders (also referred to as AAPC):  Provides certifications for physician based coding-CPC, outpatient hospital coding-CPC-H, payer coding-CPC-P (for health plans/insurance company coding staff).  You can find out more specifics by visiting the AAPC at www.aapc.com

American Health Information Management Association (also referred to as AHIMA): Provides certifications for medical records as well as coders so there are some different options here to choose from depending on the pathway you are looking at taking your career. From the coding aspect, the certifications offered would be inpatient and outpatient facility coding-CCS and physician based coding-CCS-P. To check out all of the certification options that AHIMA offers, visit their website at: www.ahima.org

Medical Association of Billers (also referred to as MAB): Provides certifications for those interested in the billing side of the profession. This certification would be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to your profession much like a coding certification does for a coder.  To find out more about what the MAB has to offer, check out their website at: www.physicianswebsites.com/Home.html

National Healthcareer Association (also referred to as NHA): Provides a wide variety of certifications in many different disciplines in the healthcare field. Three different certifications that may be of interest may be the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant-CMAA, Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist-CEHRS and the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist-CBCS.  Depending on which pathway your career is taking you, these could be beneficial to assist you in your current endeavors or future endeavors.  To find out the details on these certifications, research their website at: www.nhanow.com/home.aspx.

Professional Association Healthcare Coding Specialist (also referred to as PAHCS): Provides a Certified Basic Medical Coding Specialist-CBMCS certification for those individuals that may just be entering the profession from some type of coding and billing/HIM program. You can find out more on their organization and what they have to offer by visiting their website: www.pahcs.org.

So as you can see by the brief summary that I listed above, there are a number of organizations in the profession that you can take advantage of to obtain a certification for this profession.  So if you do not already have one, what are you waiting for?  If you do already have one, why not look at expanding your knowledge and gaining a new one.  The more certifications you hold, the more marketable you become. The choice is yours, the time is now, the opportunities are there and the employers are telling you what they are looking for.  Step up and prepare yourself for the next step in your career.  It is not going to come to you; you have to go after it.