In my travels around the state and national AHIMA shows over the last several years I’ve spoken to a number of technology company executives, being interested in their take on where technology is going in healthcare administration.
Speaking with a high-level executive (not a salesperson) from a healthcare technology company, I asked him where he specifically saw transcription in several years. To paraphrase, he said “It’ll be gone; there won’t be any.”
Now, I try to take all information in without judging it (not always successfully) but this comment really gave me pause … for a long time. He said he envisions audio .wav files being attached to the patient’s chart for each healthcare encounter, with no written transcript.
The thought has been stuck in the back of my mind for a couple of years now and speaking with someone recently I finally figured out that in our current and near future (five years at least!?) environment, this just isn’t going to happen.
One major reason is revenue cycle management. Maybe I’m missing something and I’d like to hear other opinions about this, but how can the coding occur from a .wav file? In an era when so many are trying to get to computerized coding, we would now have a voice file with no eyes (brain) at least scanning it for accuracy, when there’s already less human intervention with computerized coding.
The bottom line is the bottom line will suffer. Revenue cycle management, which is already challenging, would be put under even greater pressure.
All of that is before we even consider the issues of time and space. How long will it take to pull up an audio file and listen through it for the relevant statement, versus the time it takes to pull up a text file and glance down for a key word? Multiply that time difference by dozens of patients each day.
And will computers systems even have enough room to store all of those .wav files? This article, as a Word doc, takes up 14 KB on my computer. Read aloud and stored as a .wav file, it takes 195 KB; that’s 14 times more space for one file. Again, multiply that out by tens of thousands of patient encounters at even a small physician practice.
In the current economically challenging and federally mandate-driven landscape, it’s hard to envision this working well and enhancing what we all are concerned about first: patient care.
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