Medical transcription service group addresses standards, practices

A new group aims to improve medical transcription service by setting common standards and practices for the creation and sharing of dictated patient notes.

ICSA Labs and the Medical Transcription Industry Association (MTIA) have formed the Medical Transcription Service

Consortium (MTSC), designed to devise common standards and practices for the creation and sharing of physicians' dictated patient notes.

The consortium selected Verizon Business, which has a large presence in the health care market, to build a new IT platform for the secure exchange of digitized transcriptions of physicians' dictated notes. ICSA, an independent division of Verizon Business, provides testing and certification of security products.

Because doctor-dictated notes play a critical role in patient care, they will be  vital to the successful implementation of electronic health records (EHR). Currently, however, converting these transcriptions to a secure, digitized format that can be shared with other doctors, hospitals and healthcare professionals, is problematic because there is no single standard to exchange this data.

Members of the MTIA create and electronically archive more than 2.4 billion transcribed medical records, involving more than 70% of all physicians in the United States, according to the organization's estimates.

When they see a patient, the vast majority of doctors pick up a tape recorder or a telephone and start talking, said Peter Preziosi, CEO of the MTIA. "The doctor very commonly says, 'Please send a copy of this dictation to the patient's primary physician.' The doctor dictates. The transcription industry transcribes that, usually using a word processor," he said. Most medical transcriptions are then resurrected as paper documents or faxes, he noted.

If a doctor can continue to dictate and get 90% of meaningful use covered, that would be a big step toward getting electronics enabled.

George Japak, managing director, ICSA Labs

By developing common standards and practices for medical transcription services, it will be easier, more secure and more cost-effective for disparate medical professionals to share and store notes.  Digitized notes will be searchable, can be audited and monitored, and will communicate with each other, said Rajeev Kapoor, global managing director of health care at Verizon.

In addition, accuracy will improve, Kapoor said. "You talk about all the medical errors that are out there because the form was lost or the fax was misplaced. We want to provide a secure environment for the information exchange."

ICSA's experience in the security arena will help guide the efforts of the MTSC, said George Japak, managing director of ICSA Labs. "With the expertise of ICSA and Verizon, we expect to crawl, walk, run our way to the ultimate standards," he said. Regulations such as HIPAA and the HITECH Act include security requirements that medical practices must address in order to be compliant, he added.

"Not having the narrative record in a digital, searchable way has been part of the problem," Japak said. "From a doctor's perspective, if a doctor can continue to dictate and get 90% of meaningful use covered, that would be a big step toward getting electronics enabled."

Verizon will use security best practices to design and deploy the new IT platform, which will allow objective testing and certification for privacy, security and interoperability, according to the company.  The platform will be designed to evolve and grow as the industry's needs change and expand, Kapoor said.

Medical transcription service providers MD-IT, MedQuist, MxSecure, Sten-Tel and Webmedx have already signed on as charter members of the MTSC.

“The creation of the MTSC and the work that Verizon is doing to create a common and interoperable network for the exchange of information will help drive efficiency and data security for the medical transcription [service] industry,” said Jay Cannon, president and chief operating officer, Webmedx.  “The growing adoption of electronic medical records is driving the need to securely and quickly exchange information between approved health care providers.  This is a necessity for the entire health care industry and the work of the consortium, and Verizon Business is an important foundational element.”

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