Amid the rumors of MT being a dying profession, healthcare documentation is coming on stronger than ever. Most of the reason for this is the realization that technology can only accomplish so much. In order to flourish and maintain the integrity of the individual health record, the human element is essential to this process. Enter the MT (now called a healthcare documentation specialist). Along with other medical professional groups within the medical field, there are advocacy groups presently demanding that employers throughout the industry make credentialing mandatory for anyone actively employed in transcription. As a veteran of more than 40 years in the profession, I wholeheartedly support this move to a credentialed workforce. Why?
- Assurance that anyone touching a medical record (mine or yours) will be verifiably qualified to do so.
- Ensures that the pay scale for this profession will incrementally increase as credentialing within the profession is required.
- With credentialing comes an added level of respect. For too long, MTs have gotten a rotten deal in terms of recognition as a crucial element to healthcare documentation.
In a move towards mandatory credentialing, the Credentialing Commission for Healthcare Documentation within AHDI recently wrote and published credentialing bridge courses for the RHDS (registered healthcare documentation specialist) and the CHDS (certified healthcare documentation specialist). The commission also wrote new exams for students entering the profession. While AHDI still supports the older credentials of RMT and CMT (registered medical transcriptionist and certified medical transcriptionist, respectively), they are no longer offering these credentials. Students will now sit for the RHDS exam and after 2 years of practical experience, are eligible to sit for the CHDS exam. Is there a substantial difference between the new and old credentials and what is their significance? The HDS portion of the new credentialing confirms the knowledge base of the successful applicant as being inclusive of additional skills which are crucial for documentation in the world of medicine – critical thinking skills (such as knowing an incorrect dosage of a medication or wrong drug) and superior HIT (health information technology) skills. These advanced HIT skills include such things as HIPAA compliance and meaningful use understanding as well as application. This skill set also includes knowledge of the new and evolving electronic health record and its many applications (and vulnerabilities such as speech recognition). Within the profession, as an RHDS, once you pass your exam and receive your certification, you can congratulate yourself on a job well done as it is a comprehensive exam. After applying yourself to the task of working within the profession for 2 years, then going through the process of CHDS certification, you have truly hit the mark when it comes to success in your career. The trend is also in place now for facilities to compensate credentialed employees more than non-credentialed workers. Most employers also pay for an HDS to become credentialed and/or work on practice exams through AHDI. Once a CHDS, you do not have to test again unless your credential lapses, but you are required to accomplish continuing educational credits over a 3-year period to keep your credential up to date. This benefits not only the MT but also the profession in general terms. It broadens your understanding of the medical field overall and assures that you are keeping up with the latest technological procedures, medications, equipment, etc. As an educator, I applaud the changes within an industry I have loved all my life. I am excited for new students who are entering this fascinating field and thrilled to be a part of the advocacy for credentialing and lifelong education. Through people such as ourselves, the person we serve (each and every patient) can be assured that their medical record is safe with us. That is a huge responsibility but also a truly inspiring job. -Audrey Kirchner