Do Medical Transcriptionists Need to Fear About EMRs?

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EMRs or electronic medical records are a product of digitalisation process of documentations in hospitals and other health-care facilities, containing data such as patients’ medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunisation dates, allergies, lab results and doctor’s notes.

This global phenomenon started in the US back in the eighties and was significantly accelerated at the beginning of 21st century by government incentives that foreseen all its benefits. By today the majority of hospitals in Australia have switched to EMRs too, also encouraged by the government along the way.

However, the transition to EMRs in one institution is an expensive and complex process that requires money, time and personnel. This rose some concerns that health care providers would allocate budgets intent for traditional medical transcriptionists to the process of digitalisation and switching to EMRs. And this is pretty logical thinking. After all, that already happened to many professions and human work has been replaced by computers. Is that the case with the medical transcriptionists as well?

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Why EMRs?

Paper-based medical records have this huge and obvious downside that by the time they tend to turn into silos and get very difficult to manage. EMR replaces the need for paper-based medical record documents and provides many benefits to health-care workers and to patients. So, it’s no wonder many countries worldwide supported this transition.

Here are just a few major benefits, for better understanding of the inevitability of this process:

  • More efficient health-care (real-time clinical information and immediate access to records make health-care of the patients more efficient. Also, receiving a more clear and complete picture of each patient improves the decision making. This is probably not the only factor, but many research showed lower mortality in the facilities that use ERMs)
  • Improved security and confidentiality (many think the opposite, at least it was the case at the beginning. The truth is that ERM has an advantage over paper documentation in this sense which is achieved by encryption, internal control, and data backup. Also, in most of the systems, the record has been made every time the document was viewed or edited, showing when and by whom.
  • Improved legibility of patient notes and pharmaceutical prescriptions

(this clearly ease many steps in the whole path that patients go through the health-care system towards the recovery)

  • Improved collaboration between institutions (very important benefit and a crucial factor in the modernisation and improvement of the whole health-care system. This also allowed easier outsourcing of medical transcriptionist services that are still irreplaceable as explained below)

EMRs in Practice

These benefits are just enough argument for moving towards the ERMs. However, after the implementation and in practical use, institutions usually encounter many problems and one of them was related to medical transcriptionist services.

Soon after the implementation of EHR systems, many doctors and administrative workers faced the truth that medical transcriptionists’ services are still irreplaceable in the health-care organisations.

The use of these systems by doctors was inefficient. Also, the quality of the documentation would be questionable because a software, no matter how complex it is, cannot capture meaningful conversation; the clinical narrative and the context can only be reproduced properly by a human or skilled medical transcriptionist, more precisely.

So, a medical transcriptionist’s intervention is absolutely needed in a sense of supervision and providing quality and accuracy of clinical documentation.

On the other side, using medical transcriptionist companies and outsourcing these services became an affordable option for medical organisations with easy integration into the EHR systems. Also, these companies became a new workplace for many medical transcriptionists.

Physician noting down symptoms of a patient


Demand for Medical Transcriptionist in Australia

The health-care system in Australia is growing and therefore the demand for medical transcriptionists is strong. Growing and aging population in Australia has increased the demand for medical services in general and this tend to be this way in the following decade, for sure.

There is a need for more healthcare reports, tests and results and a need for creating accurate clinical documentation and that can be provided by medical transcriptionists. Knowledge and experience are what matters in this profession and not an employer – hospital, clinic, or other health-care institution or a medical transcriptionist company.

The profession of a medical transcriptionist is needed in the health-care system. There is no need for fear, but maybe for awareness that it’s evolving along with a whole system.

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