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Let’s Talk About Series

In an era of transition and change, the healthcare documentation industry faces critical challenges and decisions. Healthcare system reform, regulatory oversight, shifting and emerging roles, competing technologies, and the pressures of a global marketplace combine to present a daunting prospect for our sector. Where will the traditional medical transcription and emerging healthcare documentation professions fit in the future of healthcare delivery? What opportunities and challenges need our immediate and long-term attention? What is AHDI doing to usher our workforce and other stakeholders through these changes? Where do we need more engagement, better resources, or subject matter expertise?

The AHDI Board has always felt the best responses to a changing environment can be built using a collaborative, purposeful approach – one that pulls all participants into an ongoing dialogue. To that end, in 2011 we launched a series of open letters, Town Hall forums, and online exchanges to advance the dialogue on critical issues facing our profession today.


What is presented below is a series of detailed open letters on several issues of key importance for our members and for all health documentation practitioners. Former AHDI directors guided the Town Hall discussions and have authored the accompanying open letters in the hope of sparking meaningful debate, healthy discourse, and potential solutions for our sector.

This kind of dynamic collaboration is a key strategy for maximizing opportunities and meeting challenges together as we all move into the future. We hope you, our members and our healthcare documentation community, will listen and read attentively, think carefully, and engage proactively.

Emerging Roles in Clinical Documentation

This Let’s Talk About section has an Open Letters authored by former directors Kristin Hagen, Ava George, and Brett McCutcheon. These essays discuss in detail some of the significant workplace changes that continue to impact our community today: The emergence of medical scribes as a new type of healthcare documentation practitioner, the impact of speech recognition technology and concomitant emergence of speech recognition editing, also a fairly new (and growing) practice in healthcare documentation, and key employment issues that will challenge both employers and practitioners into the future.

AHDI continues to engage with many of the issues outlined in this section. In 2013, for example, the association launched revised credentials and credentialing examinations to include both editing skills and technical knowledge. For more information, go to the Certification section of AHDI’s website. For statements of AHDI positions on compensation, see the Position Statements area of the website. For more information about speech recognition and the editing role, refer to Speech Recognition Technology.

Let’s Talk About – Medical Scribes
Let’s Talk About – SRT and Editing
Let’s Talk About – Employment

The Transcription Marketplace

In the open letters, Susan Lucci presents detailed information about outsourcing and offshoring trends, including the effects of federal legislation and related developments; Karen Fox-Acosta discusses the facts and controversies surrounding offshoring of transcription services and provides a glimpse of the politics behind one legislative struggle over this issue; and Sherry Doggett explores health documentation ethical best practice in an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment with a global reach.

These topics remain important for AHDI members and all healthcare documentation practitioners. In January 2012, AHDI and Bentley University published the results of the 2011 EHR Future Roles Survey, developed by a team of academic researchers in collaboration with AHDI’s Managers and Supervisors Alliance; this survey report can be found on AHDI’s web site in the Body of Knowledge section. Also see “Healthcare and the Electronic IT Revolution.” An important first step in preparing for a changing workplace might be to take AHDI’s course “Mastering the Electronic Health Record.” AHDI members will find numerous articles in Plexus that carry on the discussion of market and workplace developments and trends. The September/October 2013 issue presents and analyzes a landmark lawsuit (“The Juno Case”) demonstrating a real-world intersection of global markets with changing healthcare documentation environments and the quality of patient care. And the theme of the November/December 2013 issue is “Career Paths,” with articles about current and future healthcare documentation roles.

Let’s Talk About – Transcription Services and Outsourcing
Let’s Talk About – Offshore Transcription
Let’s Talk About – Ethical Best Practices

The Value of Association

In this section of the Let’s Talk About series, four AHDI directors discuss some of the multiple roles of AHDI, particularly in terms of advocating for the narrative health story, patient safety, and the critical importance of an educated, credentialed and empowered healthcare documentation workforce. Barb Marques presents in detail what exactly a professional association such as AHDI can and cannot do in terms of globalization, technological change, compensation, credentialing and professional development. In the second letter, Kristin Hagen and Susan Lucci tackle the complexities and increasing importance of quality assurance in an electronic and global environment. Inside their letter are several links to key documents and studies relating to quality best practices. Finally, Karen Fox-Acosta explains some of the planning and activities AHDI undertakes in advocating and building alliances to further association goals of healthcare documentation quality and patient safety. Karen’s letter also contains numerous links to other resources related to these topics.

Clearly, association and advocacy remain important for healthcare documentation workers, providers, and patients. In fact, the increasing reach of electronic health record systems and concomitant innovations have only increased the necessity to focus on these issues, and AHDI continues to foreground them. In the face of many kinds of challenges, AHDI has consistently increased our national regulatory and legislative presence. For a snapshot of association activities in these areas (and others), please visit the Timeline of Accomplishments web page and read the “2013 Timeline of Accomplishments.”

Let’s Talk About – AHDI and MTs
Let’s Talk About – Our Focus on Quality
Let’s Talk About – Advocacy

Professional Credentialing – The Future of MT

In this Let’s Talk About section, the open letter authored by former directors Sherry Doggett and Kristin Hagen addresses the important question of credentials held by AHDI directors themselves, making the argument that the association embraces both leadership and membership diversity.

The imperatives and issues around credentialing of healthcare documentation professionals continue to be of major concern for AHDI, its members, and the healthcare documentation community. Evolving roles in healthcare documentation have led AHDI to revise and update both credentialing exams and credential branding in 2013. These important changes have the purpose of encompassing new skill sets and refocusing attention on specific aspects of documentation practice. The growth and evolution of AHDI’s credentials to date are presented in detail on the web page at Certification.

Let’s Talk About – Credentialing our Industry Leaders


Acting on a firm commitment to collaboration and dialog, AHDI sponsored the Let’s Talk About series. As described above, that commitment remains strong, and the association continues to offer a variety of forums and avenues for all healthcare practitioners to participate and to be heard. The issues discussed in the series continue to be important areas for AHDI action, and the association encourages all our community members to step forward, use our resources, and constructively express opinions on these and any other significant issues of concern.



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