Whether we realize it or not, our future in the workplace relies on technology. Many predictions of the future are based on revolutionary technological advances. With innovative technologies making grand entrances every year, what does that mean for employees? Let us direct that question toward the medical transcriptionists in the health care industry. According to Xiaoming Zeng, “health care organizations are aiming to increase effectiveness and efficiency in health care through introducing electronic health records (EHR)” (112). With EHRs taking on the tasks of “improving quality, more completeness, higher levels of correctness, greater clarity, and fewer mistakes”, there are predictions that medical transcription jobs will become obsolete in the health care industry (Johansen, Pedersen, Ellingsen 115). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the job outlook of medical transcriptionists has declined 3%” (bls.gov). However, all hope is not lost. Because there have been cases with EHRs related to time-consuming documentation and errors occurring while constructing notes, medical transcriptionists’ services are still considered to be vital to ensure the accuracy of documents.
As the cliché goes, “time is of the essence”, and time is of the utmost importance when working within the medical field. A second too late can be detrimental to any patient. EHRs were created to optimize physicians’ workflow, but not all physicians approve of EHRs’ time-saving techniques. When interviewed, “Jeffery Pearson, DO, a family physician, expressed that he was frustrated because he was not capable of finishing his EHR documentation by the end of complex patient visits. Pearson stated that it gets hectic when trying to fully chart using an EHR because it results in backed-up patients” (Terry). Medical transcriptionists can alleviate strain on physicians by taking on these time-consuming tasks thus increasing physicians’ face-to-face interaction with patients.
Furthermore, another challenge with using EHRs are reoccurring errors made by physicians when constructing and entering their notes. Quite naturally, if physicians are rushing to complete their documentations to shorten time and encounter all their patients, there are going to be some “slip-ups” in their patients’ records. For example, patients in the intensive care unit are known for having a high rate of severe medical errors. Severe medical errors are errors involving prescribing errors and errors that causes patient harm. The healthcare industry has tried to lessen these severe medical errors by the implementation of EHR. According to Vivian T. Liao and others., there were “studies conducted with the implementation of EHR that displayed significantly reduced overall severe medical errors. However, other types of errors, such as wrong dose and omission of required medications increased after EHR implementation” (31). Again, medical transcriptionists can help reduce these careless errors in patients’ records even further. “Each medical transcriptionist corrects an average of at least six errors per day, and approximately one of three dictations are corrected” (Johansen, Pedersen, Ellingsen 114). This alone can make a stark difference in the care of patients.
As can be seen, replacing medical transcriptionists and solely relying on computerized software does not ensure error-free medical reports. What ensures error-free medical reports are highly skilled and experience medical transcriptionists thoroughly checking reports entered into computerized software. Medical transcriptionists who are willing to train, adapt, and evolve as EHR advances have a better chance of doing well in the future.