Monday, June 15, 2009

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.

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