Posts Tagged ‘Health Information Management’

The Clear Medical Network

November 25, 2009

With rapid improvements in technology and communication, social networking is thriving and full of potential.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are known among all people, young and old.  As the dynamics of online communication are growing, companies are adapting to the trends.  One example is the Clear Medical Network.  

It was formed to provide an avenue for networking among all different healthcare professionals as well as provide career opportunities through consulting projects, leadership positions, and per diem work to all its members.  It’s also a great resource if you are looking for full time or per diem coders or transcriptionists in your area at a wholesale rate.  

Registered members are also informed of any upcoming fun events in their area.  One upcoming event is  a really great deal for an 8 day/7 night cruise next year to the Mexican Riviera! 

In case you are wondering, joining the network is free and takes less than a minute.  Once registered, members are informed of different forums they can join to network with other healthcare professionals within HIM as well as other areas of healthcare. 

If you are interested in joining, the site is  

This is definitely a new way to keep all healthcare professionals connected in one primary location.  Personally, I’m really excited about all the opportunities this could provide!

Questions: What do you think of the Clear Medical Network?

About the Author: Sarah Fore is a Staff Writer with the Clear Medical Solutions Communication Team.  Her work is regularly shared on the Clear Medical Agency newsletter and the blog.


Health Information Technology and the Stimulus Package: Information and Changes for the Public and Employment Opportunities

November 16, 2009

Health information technology (HIT) is a broad term used to describe the digital storage, management, and secure exchange of health information between patients, providers, government, and insurers.  The information being exchange primarily refers to but is not limited to Electronic Health Records (EHRs are sometimes called electronic medical records (EMRs)).

Earlier this year, Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Stimulus Bill) was signed into law.  One part of the Stimulus Bill; the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, aims to increase the use of an EHR by doctors and hospitals by:

  • “Requiring the government to take a leadership role to develop standards by 2010 that allow for the nationwide electronic exchange and use of health information to improve quality and coordination of care.”
  • “Investing $20 billion in health information technology infrastructure and Medicare and Medicaid incentives to encourage doctors and hospitals to use HIT to electronically exchange patients’ health information.”
  • “Saving the government $10 billion, and generating additional savings throughout the health sector, through improvements in the quality of care and care coordination, and reductions in medical errors and duplicative care.”
  • “Strengthening Federal privacy and security law to protect identifiable health information from misuse as the health care sector increases use of Health IT.”

Information and Changes for the Public:
Health information technology and electronic health records will not only improve patient care but also change the way we experience health care.   Even the best doctors can make mistakes or unintentionally overlook important details; an EHR will reduce the risk of these errors.   EHRs negate mistakes made due to sloppy handwritten notes.  They have automatic drug-drug/ drug-food interaction and allergy checks, and since they are online, standard drug dosage information and educational patient information can also be accessed.  Built- in alerts remind doctors of preventive care timelines, and can track referrals and test results.

Another major advantage of EHRs is they are maintained digitally and once they progress to their full potential, they can be accessed from anywhere.  Because it is simple to back-up this data to another location, EHRs also guarantee information will never be lost or damaged as a result of a natural disaster.  In the event of an emergency hospital visit or sickness while away from home, a doctor will immediately be able to pull up a patient’s chart and access information potentially crucial in diagnosing and treatment.  Referral doctors will be able to see any treatment a patient is undergoing by other doctors and make decisions that will not interfere with that treatment.

Though there are many benefits, HIT is not without its drawbacks.  Advocacy groups like the ACLU are wary of HIT and question how secure confidential medical records will really be if they are kept digitally online.  The potential for online medical records to be hacked is real and very serious; electronic databases and servers regularly experience hack attempts and an EHR would be no different. 

It is easy to placate the fear of EHRs being hacked and find comfort in the idea that “if someone really wanted my medical file they could just as easily break into my doctor’s office.”  This leads to the conclusion that “nobody would break into my doctor’s office to steal my records, because I am simply not that important.”  However, hacking into an EHR system is not the same as breaking into your doctors.  The threat of your EHR being attacked is not only about your personal health information; hacking into an EHR means gaining access to everyone’s valuable health information.  Hackers could sell the information found in the nation’s family histories, mental health history, test results, current medication, etc… or use it to bribe and blackmail people in countless ways for countless amounts of money.  Even worse, they could change the EHR causing unimaginable damage.

However, the benefits of an EHR far surpass the risks.  The government is working hard to minimize the threat of hacking.  Part of the HITECH is to strengthen “Federal privacy and security law to protect identifiable health information for misuse as the health care sector increases use of Health IT.”

Information and Changes for Employment:
Employment for medical records and health information technicians is very good and is expected to grow faster than the average professional field.  The projected employment for 2016 is 200,000.  That is 30,000 more than 2006 or an 18% increase.  Physicians’ offices, home health care services, outpatient care centers, and nursing and residential care facilities will have the most job growth and creation of new jobs.  Job growth in hospitals will not be as great but new jobs will still be created.

The growth of HIT and increased use of EHR will benefit everyone and is not something to be scared of.

Questions: Does anyone work in a facility that has already implemented an EHR?  Have you experienced or do you foresee any other problems or risks with an EHR other than hacking?

About the Author: Erika Christenson is a Staff Writer with the Clear Medical Solutions Communication Team.  Her work is regularly shared on the Clear Medical Agency newsletter and the blog. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-2009 Edition.  Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.

Title IV- Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.  January 16, 2009.

The Fate of Medical Transcriptionists and the Advancements of Voice Recognition Technology

September 29, 2009

GetAttachmentMedical transcription is a lesser-known profession to the general public in spite of the fact that medical transcriptionists (MTs) are a part of everyone’s health care.  Medical transcriptionists transcribe the dictated recordings made by doctors or health care professionals into reports, correspondence, and other administrative documents.  An example, familiar to anyone who has watched one of the highly popular crime dramas on television is when a medical examiner is seen saying the findings of an autopsy out loud; it is a MT who turns that recording into a written report.  In addition to autopsy reports, MTs are also responsible for referral letters, discharge summaries, diagnostic imaging studies, medical histories, physical examination reports, operative reports, and consultation reports.  The completed transcript is returned to the professional who dictated it for review, signature, and movement into the patients file.

The future and security of MT’s jobs has begun to be questioned as voice recognition (VR) technology becomes increasingly refined.  VR converts spoken words into text, potentially eliminating the need for MTs.  Proponents for VR advertise how VR will save medical professionals thousands of dollars over employing MTs.  However, the reality is VR is nowhere near refined enough to replace MTs. 

VR technology would need to be able to “understand” different accents, separate background noise from what is being dictated, and convert any abbreviations used into their full form.  In addition, context plays a large role in understanding spoken language.  VR needs to “understand” context to differentiate between: urine vs. you’re in, cauterize vs. caught her eyes, align vs. a line, dilate vs. die late, and so on before it can replace MTs.

Currently, VR for the purpose of medical transcription is being used in two ways, front-end VR and back-end or deferred VR.  Front-end VR creates a report that rarely goes through an MT but is more time consuming for the medical professional.  Medical professionals using front-end VR dictate into a recognition system and the words are displayed on a monitor as they are spoken; the dictator is responsible for catching mistakes, editing, and completing the document for sign off.  The question for professionals using front-end VR is; is editing reports a better use of their time than seeing additional patients?

Back-end VR is when a recording of what is being dictated is played and a draft document is created.  Both the draft document and voice recording are sent to an MT who listens to the recording, edits the draft, and finalizes the report for sign off.  Back-end VR is the most common form of VR being used in medical transcription.  Back-end VR has made medical transcription more efficient and helps MTs generate more reports in less time.

VR will not make MTs obsolete. The duties and responsibilities of MTs may change due to advancements in VR technology but the day when VR completely eliminates the need for MTs is not in the foreseeable future.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for job opportunities for MTs is good. The aging baby boomer population will increase the demand for MTs.  Employment opportunities for MTs are projected to grow faster than the average.  A 14 percent growth is expected between 2006- 2016; in 2006 98,000 MTs were employed, by 2016 112,000 MTs are expected to be employed.  MTs jobs are secure and they should view VR as a tool to aid them in their job, not as threat.

About the Author: Erika Christenson is a Staff Writer with the Clear Medical Solutions Communication Team.  Her work is regularly shared on the Clear Medical Agency newsletter and the blog. 


Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition.”

 MedGenMed “Voice Recognition and Medical Transcription” August 27, 2004.

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