Off The Record

Posts Tagged ‘medical transcription’

Doctor, Heal Thy ICD-10 Worries – The game’s not just for Coders Anymore

965897_data_01Is your practice counting down to October 1, 2014 with fear, or anticipation?

The transition to the ICD-10’s keeping just about everyone up at night – and not just coders either.  Everyone in the health care revenue cycle – physicians, payers and vendors – has got a stake in the game.  One company even coined an affliction for HIMs, coders and physicians alike – “ICD-10 Stress Syndrome. “ (Is there a code for that??)

Like it or not; there are just 200 some days until the deadline.  (Cue the creepy organ music…)   And while HIMs everywhere are scrambling to prepare, doctors are most at risk for lack of readiness.  “If claims are not submitted accurately, physicians simply won’t be paid.  According to Beth Hertz’ piece in Medical Economics, “With less than a year until the one-day ICD-10 conversion … a physician’s ultimate life preserver is going to be planning and training,” says Shari Erickson, MPH, vice president of government and regulatory affairs for the American College of Physicians.

The piece goes on to argue the leap from the ICD-9 to the ICD-10 is historically ambitious, requiring a much more precise detailing in reporting diagnosis.  Outpatient diagnostic codes will increase from about 13,000 to 68,000.  Go time to learn all those?  (How about time to just get to the bathroom between patient intakes?)

The system requires training for everyone on the team – including coders, billers and providers. This is a ONE-DAY transition, so readiness has to happen immediately with plenty of preparation ahead of time.  Distress call!

5 Tips for Moving From Panicked to Prepared

Keep calm and prepare on for a smooth transition on October 1st

  1. Small practices may want to secure a line of credit to mitigate cash flow issues temporarily if payers aren’t ready.  “It would be prudent to take out a credit line equal to about 5% of the total reimbursement for the year for the practice. “  -Michael F. Arigo, CPHIT, CPEMR managing partner of No World Borders
  2. Identify a Project Coordinator or Point Person.  Identify someone on staff who can assume responsibility for training, implementation, communication and accountability to keep the process on track for the big date.  Ideally this person is familiar with coding but if not, choose someone who will embrace the challenge and find the help they need.
  3. Fight the urge to get overwhelmed.  Keep it in perspective; learning every single new code isn’t necessary.  Become familiar with the ones used most often in your practice – identify the top 20 codes for medical and diagnoses procedures and start there.
  4. Connect with your EMR vendor.   If your practice uses an EMR, your vendor should be a great resource.  Be certain to connect with them to ensure delivery of software upgrades and ask if they offer training. 
  5.  CALL iDATA!  While clinical documentation has long been regarded by doctors as a necessary evil, physicians must become more involved in the process of ensuring documentation meets the high standards of the ICD-10 compliance.  Partnering with an expert company (like iData!) aligns physicians with expertise to ensure documentation – for which the ICD-10 environment requires considerably more detail – is captured accurately and efficiently.

 So don’t panic.  Just get prepared.  We can help!


Chime in here or on our Facebook page – or connect with me personally at

Warmly, Kendall Tant, CEO, iData 












The Annual Report: Alive, Kicking and Grateful

KT HSYou may have heard the doom and gloom.  But Don’t buy into it.

Seems plenty have eagerly authored eulogies for the field of medical transcription.  The emergence of the EHR (Electronic Health Record) with its promise to deliver reduced costs, interoperability and shared patient data across platforms can’t be labeled, “Mission Complete” just yet.   It sounds like Utopia, but both the technology, and its usage is still maturing.

In the years since the passage of 2009’s HITECH Act, while much has been achieved in the name of Meaningful Use, we’re still very much navigating a time of transition.  And clinical documentation is front and center.  Can you remember any other time in history during which the patient record garnered so much press?

The EHR still has some work to do in making doctors happy.  Over and again, word is doctors are frustrated with entering patient data while trying to focus on patients.  The clinician’s narrative doesn’t always fit neatly into drop-down templates embedded into EHR systems, and voice recognition software still requires editors to proof and affirm the integrity and accuracy of the data.

In other words, the medical knowledge and human touch skilled transcriptionists bring to the table is still very much necessary, often even preferred.

While some say the future for medical transcription is bleak, we’re here to tell you that at iData, we’re thriving, and even growing as we head into 2014.   (We’ve noticed plenty of our competitors are still in business, too.)  As Mark Twain quipped, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  Our roles are changing, but they’re hardly extinct.   We’re grateful for our loyal customers – hospitals, doctors and group practices – who are finding innovative ways to integrate our expertise into emerging technologies.  At the end of the day, we are the “faces” behind the integrity and safety of the patient record.

One of our largest customers, in fact, renewed a multiyear contract.  During negotiations no one issued even one complaint.  This is a facility to which we return hundreds of reports a week – in fewer than 90 minutes each!  So during this season of gratitude, we’re thankful for our talented staff of MT’s, editors and operations group who work tirelessly each day for our customers, and ultimately, for patients.

It’s true – our industry is adapting, and even facilitating the healthcare marketplace’s assimilation to the digital age.  Our work hasn’t been replaced, but instead complements the mandate for seamless EHR interfaces.  Our ability to capture discreet (or selected) data from dictated reports empower doctors toward efficiency, and our highly trained and skilled MT’s use templates to make report completion more efficient.  Further, when the clinician prefers, we use speech recognition. Agility, flexibility and diverse, robust solutions that address varied needs enable us to create customized solutions.  Oh yeah – and on time. Or it’s free.  Where else can you get that kind of guarantee?

So for us, the future’s a bright one.  Our plan is to stay ahead of trends, embrace change and innovate new solutions – just like our customers.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Joyful Holiday Season!  For the record, you’re the reason we exist!

Get Schooled: UC San Diego’s Leading the Charge in Reducing ED Wait Times

KT HSWe always remember that the people we serve are patients, who are served by doctors, who often work in bustling hospitals and relentless emergency rooms.  What was your last experience in the ER like?  Efficient, or agonizing?  We’re betting you remember exactly how long it was before you were seen, particularly if your emergency didn’t include spurting blood or broken bones.  It’s never fun.

According to the CDC, between 2003 and 2009, wait times in hospital emergency departments increased by 25%, or from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes on average.    No one likes to wait, and languishing in the ER, holding onto a throbbing arm or a wailing toddler tops of the list.  A possible solution?  Telemedicine.  Yes, George Jetson, the future is here.  One medical school on the cutting edge is forging the new frontier.

Citing an epidemic of overcrowding for more than 2 decades, The UC San Diego School of Medicine recently launched a pilot program to explore the merits of connecting doctors to patients from remote locations when the ER gets overwhelmed.  How?  You guessed it – by empowering technology to become more humanizing.  The doctor will see you NOW – albeit via computer monitor.

According to UC San Diego, “The study is the first of its kind in California to use cameras to bring on-call doctors who are outside of the hospital to the patient in need.”  Aside from decreasing patient wait times and improving patient care, the project may help alleviate the staffing issues associated with matching adequate resources to erratic ER cycles.

Dubbed the Emergency Department Initiative to Rapidly Accommodate in Times of Emergency (EDTITRATE), consenting patients are prioritized accordingly and linked to an offsite (but immediately available) physician via high fidelity sound and video, or telemedicine station.  An ER nurse facilitates the process.  High fidelity sound and video enables the telemedicine physician to examine a patient’s eyes, nose, throat and skin, listening to the heart and lung sounds through the module.  Lab and imaging tests may be ordered, reviewed and documented as well.  Finally, the attending physician onsite reassesses the patient to confirm findings and actions, and can take time to address patient concerns and questions.

Funded by a $50K grant by the University of California Health Quality Improvement grant, the goal is to expand the project’s reach to the ED in La Jolla.  If successful, hospitals across the nation may adopt a similar model.

What are your thoughts?  Is this one more step toward improving patient care and satisfaction, particularly with the market opening to so many more people?  Or, does telemedicine create one more barrier to the connection between doctor and patient?  Time will tell.  Till then, we’re keeping the pulse on the response.


Measuring Turn-around-time (TAT): Is your MT provider’s STAT – or DOA?


In our industry, turn-around-time, or TAT, is everything – well, part and parcel with accuracy and quality.  Each one is critical component – we have to deliver it all.  Every medical transcription company claims their service is the speediest.  But how do they prove it?

And if they’re not measuring up – do they put their money where their mouth is? They should.  We do.

24:  More than just a T.V. Show

First – yes; you should expect a medical transcription provider to deliver – but also, to prove they’re doing it. It’s critical, because patient records provide necessary information from which the clinician’s work flows – for analyzing history, making diagnosis, making references to specialists and protecting against litigation.  Never underestimate the power of the patient record!

So of course, the speed with which data is extracted, recorded and returned is paramount, and turn-around-time to our industry is akin to arrival and departure times in the airline industry.  It’s the basis by which our success is measured.  The “gold standard?”  Ideally, most reports should be returned in 12 – 18 hours, others, from the emergency room for example, should arrive back within 1 – 6 hours.

At iData, we guarantee our turn-around-time, or our clients don’t pay.  We think it doesn’t get any more committed than that!

Drilling down:  Questions to ask your Clinical Documentation Provider

There are plenty of choices in finding a clinical documentation provider – no argument there.  Of course we think you should choose our locally owned small business because we invest so intimately in our customers.  Regardless of your choice, it should be an informed one, so we recommend asking the following questions when searching for a new provider:

  1. What is your average turn-around-time in delivering reports?  A provider should have no trouble giving you a solid answer on this and should provide exacting data to show a history.
  1. What quality controls are in place?  Speed is critical, but it cannot be sacrificed at the expense of quality.  A slip of the key, a misinterpreted medication dosage can cause serious damage.  (Around here our systems ensure each report passes through no less than 3 quality controls.  But that’s just us!)
  1. What kind of technology platform supports their infrastructure? It’s essential that a medical transcription provider use the most cutting edge technology that allows for mobile usage, cloud-based storage and EHR interface.  We have to adapt even before our clients do so we can move at the speed of light when the time arrives.
  1. How do they measure turn-around-time? Each provider should offer their customers reports measuring their turn-around-time.  It should be easy to analyze their performance based on delivery after initial data is provided and customers run their own real-time reports.

Like we said – our guarantee at iData is to deliver reports on time, every time – or our customers don’t pay.  We’re pretty incentivized to get them turned around on time, every time.  Just what the doctor ordered.


What’s in a name? Clinical Documentation vs. Medical Transcription

Clinical Documentation: The Industry Formerly Known as Medical Transcription

It’s no secret technology’s transforming the Clinical Documentation (formerly known as Medical Transcription) industry.   Like businesses everywhere, the technological revolution to which we’re bearing witness requires every one of us to adapt in ways both significant and sublime.  And in an industry that’s defined by words, it’s big news that we’re changing the verbiage we use to describe just what it is that we do.

A quick visit to the Medical Transcription Industry Association’s (MTIA) website and you’ll notice that while the URL is the same, their name has changed. Our industry’s primary trade association was just recently minted the Clinical Documentation Industry Association (CDIA).   We think that’s pretty big news.

So what’s in a name?


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