“I use EMR and so I am MY OWN transcriptionist.” – Doc at AAFP

I’m currently in Denver attending the AAFP conference. So far I’m really glad that I’ve come to the conference. It’s really fantastic to be surrounded by providers. It’s a stark contrast to HIMSS where you’re mostly surrounded by industry insiders and not that many providers. The practical questions the doctors ask are fascinating.

Of course, the comments they make are also fascinating. The title of this post is a comment one lady made in the David Kibbe session on Meaningful Use:
“I use EMR and so I am MY OWN transcriptionist.”

The problem with this comment is that it just doesn’t have to be true. It could be true depending on which EMR software you selected and how you implemented the EMR. However, that’s a choice you make when you choose and implement an EMR without any transcription.

I’ve actually seen a number of EMR vendors that have some really nice and deep integration between their software and transcription companies. There are even transcription companies that are building their own EMR software which obviously leverages the power of transcription.

Plus, many doctors happily use voice recognition like Dragon Naturally Speaking to still do what essentially amounts to transcription with their EMR.

Add in developments around natural language processing and the idea of preserving the narrative that is so valuable and interesting while capturing the granular data elements is a really interesting area of EMR development.

Of course, one of the problems with this idea is that many people like to use the savings on transcription costs as a way to justify the cost of purchasing and implementing an EMR. Obviously, you’ll need to look for other EMR benefits if you choose to continue transcription.

Just to round out the conversation, there are a wide variety of EMR vendors which each have their own unique style of documentation. Part of the problem is that many people don’t look much past the big “Jabba the Hutt” EMR vendors which are these ugly click interfaces that spit out a huge chunk of text that nobody wants to see. There’s plenty of EMR vendor options out there. Keep looking if you don’t like an EMR vendor’s documentation method.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • My own doc recently complained about huge chunks of documentation. He said that the report (of an exam by a colleague while he was away) generated by this particular software was full of boilerplate text describing everything he already knew about me, obscuring the important stuff.
    If there are EMR systems that have solved this problem, that would be good to know about.

    Off that topic, my insurance company website has an EHR section for me to keep my personal medical history. This is convenient, since it includes history from claims, but it makes me uneasy giving all my medical info to the insurance industry. Should I be? Would love to know what you think. Keep up the good work here.

  • Paul,
    There are a number of EMR options out there that take different approaches to not having the boilerplate text. For example, this weekend I saw a demo of SOAPware where you have the option to hide all the non-relevant parts of the documentation/template. Basically, it only includes the parts of the documentation that you actually did.

    I would be uneasy as well giving any other personal medical info to the insurance company. There are other options available if you want to have your health information stored somewhere. See Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault and NoMoreClipboard to start.

Click here to post a comment