Tuesday, June 30, 2009

President Obama Discusses Healthcare Reform at Town Hall Meeting

Last weekend the Obama Administration announced on its White House Blog that the President would take his healthcare reform message directly to the American people during an online town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 1, at 1:15 p.m. EDT. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about the Administration’s proposals, which will likely greatly impact the American healthcare system, including the health information technology sector. Prior to the meeting, individuals can submit their thoughts concerning the President’s proposals by watching a special message from the President here and posting their questions in the form of a 20- to 30-second video. Twitter users can ask questions with this hashtag: #WHHCQ or head to Facebook and ask your question there. Although the Obama Administration has not released many details about the town hall meeting, information on how to view it will likely be posted at either the main White House website or the Administration’s Facebook page.

AHDI and MTIA Begin Work with Dewey Square Group on Advocacy Strategy for Important Year Ahead

AHDI and MTIA recently began employing the services of the Dewey Square Group (DSG), a well-respected lobbying firm in Washington, DC. By working with DSG, we will hone our advocacy strategy and increase our access to members of Congress, officials at administrative agencies, and other important government decision makers. Our work with DSG has already begun to pay dividends. Based on a strategy we designed with DSG, we carried out the following advocacy efforts last week.

Over four dozen AHDI and MTIA members responded to the advocacy alert asking members to submit comments to the HIT Policy Committee concerning the body’ draft description of “meaningful use.” By doing so, we educated the Committee and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on the crucial role healthcare documentation professionals and medical transcription service organizations (MTSOs) play in ensuring the accuracy, completeness, and integrity of patient health information and the need for that role to be recognized within the definition of “meaningful use.” This week, with DSG’s support, we will spread our message even further by sharing the comments with federal legislators, including key members of the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over healthcare issues.

We also submitted written testimony to the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulations and Healthcare, which held a hearing last week concerning the challenges solo and small group practices face in adopting health information technology (IT) and the implementation policies in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to promote Health IT adoption. Our testimony addressed the importance of healthcare documentation professionals and MTSOs for quality documentation, shared concerns we have regarding the financial effects of new HIPAA standards on small MTSOs, and called for collaboration, technical assistance, and financial support in light of those concerns.

Such advocacy efforts will enable us to make a greater impact on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington, DC. As we work with DSG more in the future, AHDI and MTIA members must continue to be strong advocates for the profession and industry. Together we can ensure that Congress and the Obama Administration realize we are vital to quality documentation and successful EHR adoption and take into account the sector’s valuable contributions when creating legislation and regulations.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Are you Video-enabled? We’ll feature you at ACE!

AHDI is looking for webcam enthusiasts to generate welcome messages for our ACE attendees in Nashville. If you can’t attend the conference this year but would like to be featured in our exhibit hall video stream this year – greeting attendees as they enter and exit the vendor area – we’d love to feature you! Simply record your 1- to 2-minute video and upload it to the AHDI FTP folder designated below. Start your session with a greeting to ACE attendees, make sure to tell us your name and where you live, followed by whatever else you would like to say that demonstrates your love for the profession, enthusiasm for the association and the event, and perhaps a word of encouragement for your industry colleagues in attendance. Please use webcam videos only – no other format will be accepted. All videos subject to review for appropriate content. Upload to:

Username: AHDIVideo
Password: acemovies
Port: 21

Please email Lea Sims ( or Andrew Wolf ( when you have uploaded your video.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Meaningful Use" Public Comment Deadline - June 26, 2009

Last February, President Obama signed into law the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which provides $17.2 billion to physicians and healthcare enterprises that qualify as "meaningful users" of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. This week, the HIT Policy Committee issued a draft definition of "meaningful use" and requested that members of the public submit comments concerning the definition. The committee’s request provides us with a tremendous opportunity to educate government decision-makers on the crucial role that medical transcriptionists play in clinical documentation by ensuring the accuracy and completeness of patient health records.

Please submit your comments to the HIT Policy Committee by sending an email to and placing "Meaningful Use" in the subject line. So that we are all sending a consistent, unified message on this subject, we strongly recommend that you incorporate some or all of the following points (in your own words) when you submit your comments to the Committee:

• EHR technology has the potential to improve quality of care, enhance patient safety, and reduce healthcare costs. However, successful adoption and implementation hinges upon the effective integration of technology and people, including physicians, other healthcare providers, and medical transcriptionists (MTs)/healthcare documentation professionals who work alongside physicians to ensure that patient records are accurate and complete.

• While these technologies have improved documentation, an "extra set of knowledgeable and skilled eyes" is still needed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of patient health records. To free up clinicians to focus on patient care, not data entry, in the new age of EHRs, healthcare documentation specialists will capture and correct errors that otherwise would become permanent and be perpetuated in a patient’s health record, potentially creating misinterpretation by other care providers and compromised care of the patient.

• Dictation has historically been and continues to be the documentation method of choice for physicians because it produces a complex, specific narrative that ensures accurate capture of patient history, as well as the care encounter. By allowing for uniformly formatted and coded narrative reports, EHR technologies will enable this vital piece of the patient health record to be shared across providers and enterprises.

• Incorporating dictation-transcription and uniformly formatted and coded narrative reports into the certification process for EHR technologies and the definition of "meaningful use" is a simple, yet proven and highly effective, way to ensure that improved health information capture supports and improves the quality of patient care delivery. It also will add no cost to the system and will likely save money using more cost effective healthcare documentation specialists to capture data rather than expensive clinicians.

Guidelines to consider when submitting your comments to the HIT Policy Committee:
1. Submit your comments no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 26, 2009.

2. Add to the strength of your comments — if you are an MT, include a personal story or two detailing errors that you have captured and corrected, making sure you do not include PHI-sensitive references in your examples.

3. To help with this important effort, please encourage others within our industry and the doctors for whom you provide documentation services to submit supportive comments to the Committee. It would be very powerful for the HIT Policy Committee to hear from doctors who want certified EHR systems to include a dictation-transcription option and to allow for uniformly formatted and coded narrative reports.

4. When you submit your comments, please send a copy to staff member Greg Doggett at He will make sure your Congressional District’s Representative and your state’s two Senators receive a copy of your comments. (Be sure to provide Greg with your mailing address for the purpose of identifying your Representative.) It is critical that as many as decision-makers as possible hear our message.

If you have any questions, please contact Greg at or 703-663-8379. Thank you in advance for taking time out of your busy schedules to aid this important effort.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Live Green. Work Green.

Did you know? In support of AHDI’s initiative to "go green" this year at ACE’09, InterFix will be offering attendees a special trade-in discount for new KB subscriptions. ACE’09 attendees can earn $10 off the annual KB subscription price ($199 nonmembers, $174 members) for every MT reference book they drop off in the recycle bin at the InterFix booth in Nashville (up to 5 books for a $50 discount). Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to green your workspace by transitioning from print resources to the best online resource toolkit available for the working MT—Benchmark KB!

2009 Advocacy Summit: Looking Back and Moving Forward

At last week’s Advocacy Summit, AHDI and MTIA members from across the United States had well over 100 appointments and delivered in excess of 200 letters to Capitol Hill to educate legislators on how the medical transcription sector can help achieve the HITECH Act’s vision of a nationwide, interoperable electronic health record (EHR) system. Members discussed the need for federal legislators and administrative agency officials to recognize the critical role documentation professionals and the sector play in ensuring quality of care, patient safety, and proper reimbursement in an electronic health environment.

The Obama Administration is advancing a definition and criteria for "meaningful use" of electronic health records by July of this year to use in determining the funding guidelines for EHR adoption. MTIA and AHDI believe there is a critically narrow window of opportunity for this sector to ensure that such criteria include provisions for the evolving role of transcription in hybrid capture, where complex narrative is preserved and quality outcomes, not just fiscal savings, drive adoption and integration. The HIT vendor community is positioning itself around key decision-makers in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in whose hands the determination of "meaningful use" now resides. Inarguably, the primary interest of those vendors is in securing widespread EHR adoption through HITECH provisions, and our message to legislators is that DHHS needs others at the decision-making table whose interest is geared more toward how these technologies will be deployed, not whether they will be deployed.

Defining "meaningful use" is not the role of HIT but rather of clinicians and experts in healthcare documentation who can speak to the document workflow process and the complexities of capturing health stories in a way that informs clinical decision-making and promotes coordination of care. If the "meaningful use" definition is shaped only by the vendor community, there is great risk for EHR deployment to fall short of health care’s goals for capturing and consuming health information. All stakeholders, most importantly the patient, lose under such an imprudent integration approach.

To that end, MTIA and AHDI will be engaging the services of a lobbying firm, Dewey Square Group (DSG), to assist us in delivering our message to key members of Congress, as well as those in DHHS, who will ultimately be responsible for the "meaningful use" definition. In addition, in partnership with the membership and DSG, we will continue to drive this message and our recommendations to Dr. David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health IT, so that the role of transcription is not left out of EHR integration standards, recommendations, and regulations.

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2009 Advocacy Summit. Your voice on Capitol Hill and involvement were critical to keeping the profession and sector visible to lawmakers and in making this important event a success. To review the documents members used to take their message to Capitol Hill, please visit the Advocacy Summit 2009 Tool Kit on either the AHDI Web site or MTIA Web site. Materials include the Abstract for a Dictation Error Study revealing the crucial role that MTs play in correcting dictation errors and ensuring the accuracy of patients’ health records.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ACE Convention Preview for Students and Postgrads - Webinar 6/23/09

The Annual Convention & Expo is the perfect networking opportunity for students and postgraduates! The FREE “AHDI Annual Convention Preview for Students and Postgrads” webinar will give you all the inside information you need to make this a memorable experience.

What: AHDI Annual Convention Preview for Students and Postgrads
When: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 3:30pm Pacific
Cost: Free!

Registration ends June 16, 2009.

Register today:

Health Story Project and "Meaningful Use" Definitions

The Health Story Project is an alliance of healthcare vendors, providers and associations that share a vision that all of the clinical information required for good patient care, administration, reporting and research will be readily available electronically—providing patients with a comprehensive electronic clinical record, or complete health story.

The greatest single waste of current health information technology (HIT) resources is the failure to leverage information that is already electronic; this occurs approximately 600,000,000 times each year in the U.S. when dictated notes are printed and the electronic source is not available for exchange and reuse. With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) there is an opportunity to accelerate transformation of dictation from paper to electronic data and to address this significant gap.

Meaningful use of the Certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) must encompass dictation for creation and exchange of standards-based clinical documentation. This comprehensive view of the EHR supports the immediate needs of front-line physicians and patients, is complementary with structured data, and lays the ground work for increasing EHR adoption and information reuse.

Stakeholder Communities Addressed in this Testimony
• Physicians: the overwhelming majority use dictation
• Vendors: Medical Records and Document Management, Coding, Dictation, Speech Recognition, Natural Language Processing & EHR
• Transcription/Coding Service Providers: includes over 200,000 U.S.-based knowledge workers
• Patients: want and deserve access to their complete record, including physician narrative and structured data entry

Want to make a difference but don't have time?

If you're looking for one simple, high-impact contribution you can make to AHDI, we have an opportunity for you! Like many members, you may have had a desire to participate in association life but have been too busy with family and career to devote your time and talents to active engagement. Members often ask us if there is something they can do to contribute that doesn’t take a lot of time, money, or resources. We truly need your help in educating this sector about the role, value, and resources of AHDI. To that end, we created a Follow Me to AHDI banner to empower our members to be ambassadors for the association in a simple, effective way. The banner above can be embedded in any personal, corporate, or AHDI component website as well as in social networking pages and/or blogs to direct your friends and colleagues to AHDI resources and programs. Contact for the code to imbed in your website or blog to display this graphic.

Medical Transcription: Proven Accelerator of EHR Adoption

The recently enacted Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) of 2009 represents an important first step towards achieving the vision of a nationwide, fully interoperable electronic health record (EHR) system. However, the gap between that vision and current reality remains wide. Many healthcare providers still use paper records. Other providers have tried to implement EHR systems, but unfortunately, many such projects have failed. "Industry experts agree that failure rates of electronic medical record (EMR) implementations range from 50 to 80 percent." Clearly, the challenges of EHR adoption and implementation remain great.

Read more here:

AHDI Leadership Institute Suspended

Due to inadequate enrollment, the AHDI Board of Directors voted to suspend the Leadership Institute in favor of exploring other leadership development concepts in the future. Those LI courses scheduled through July will be held as planned, but LI courses will be cancelled for the fall term. It is our hope to assist our current enrollees through the remainder of the program privately, but we will not be accepting any new LI enrollees and we will not offer these courses publically again at any point in the future. We may, however, offer these courses via webinar recording for purchase in our online store later this year. Thank you to all who have supported this initiative and to the instructors who gave their time and resources to develop our association leaders.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ACE 2009 Early Bird Registration Deadline Extended!

Due to the exciting events taking place in our Nation's Capitol this week for Advocacy Summit, AHDI is extending its early bird deadline for ACE 2009 to Monday, June 15 to make sure all Summit attendees (and anyone else who has not registered yet!) will have an opportunity to take advantage of the early bird rate. Don't wait too long! Early bird discounts are designed to help you plan the most cost-effective trip to the event and help us with dynamic event planning. Also, make sure to reserve your room as soon as possible to take advantage of the AHDI room block rate before the block is sold out. For more information, visit the ACE 2009 page at the AHDI website.