Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rave Review from "For The Record Magazine"

In his new electronic "textbook," Dictation Therapy for Doctors, George Heymont has a bone to pick, and he's not bashful about picking it publicly. Taking aim against what many consider an unassailable target, he fires off an audacious salvo: doctors are frequently "language-impaired," and they must be made accountable for the mistakes they make in medical documentation. It's not an original thought -- no doubt it's traceable to the advent of the tape recorder -- still few have dared to state it outright.

As a veteran journalist who's written for publications ranging from GQ to American Medical News, from Opera Monthly to the Journal of the American Association for Medical Transcription, Heymont has a clear love of language and a respect for its power. As a medical transcriptionist (MT), he's witnessed the misuse of language in medical documentation and laments the fact that a transcriptionist's product "is totally dependent on the quality of dictation which reaches his ears."

Heymont tallies the enormous, yet often unacknowledged, cost of such dictating sins as mumbling, misspellings, misplaced modifiers, and malapropisms, and illustrates the consequences of these errors -- consequences that affect not only healthcare organizations and their patients, but also the physicians who make these mistakes and the professional medical transcriptionists who must make sense of them.

But Dictation Therapy for Doctors is no mere diatribe against the dictation-challenged. Heymont, cofounder of Alert & Oriented Medical Transcription Services, creator of the Internet's KAMT-LIST (Keeping Abreast of Medical Transcription) mailing list for MTs, and past president of the Golden Gate Chapter of the American Association for Medical Transcription (GGC-AAMT), doesn't simply diagnose the dictation disorders suffered by doctors. He offers treatment as well -- "preventive medicine" for dictating doctors. First, Heymont clearly explains the role of the medical transcriptionist in documentation and the MT's place in the healthcare organization's hierarchy. He offers doctors an understanding of the tools, techniques, and technology used by MTs, including digital dictation systems, word expanders, voice recognition technology, standard references, and word processing programs.

With both bite and humor, he illustrates the ways in which physicians create barriers to clear communication and discusses the ways in which they can prevent such obstacles. On the flip side, he offers MTs a road map to the common errors made by dictators and helps them avoid the pitfalls.

Heymont offers clear guidance on dictation techniques, addressing, for example, abbreviations, units of measure, standardized templates, enunciation, spelling, grammar, consistency, and special formatting.

Dictation Therapy for Doctors uses a hypertext system of inter-linked HTML files to provide a new form of continuing medical education -- an interactive teaching tool. The interactive format allows users to move in whatever fashion they wish between text, language skills worksheets, and consciousness raising exercises, or to sample the wry humor of Gerard Donelan's cartoons. The book also offers internal and external links to sources of additional information. Internal links take the user to files prepared specifically for Dictation Therapy for Doctors. External links offer side-trips to various home pages on the World Wide Web that offer resources for medical transcriptionists, general resources on healthcare, and sites concerning social issues that affect healthcare. Other external links may lead the readers to subjects as seemingly distant from medical records as politics, sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. You may find links, for example, to information about Gilbert and Sullivan operettas or "The X-Files." Not standard fare for a transcription text, but navigating the twists and turns promises an unorthodox and interesting journey.

This dynamic teaching tool is not just remedial reading for doctors -- it's a must for anyone concerned with the integrity of the medical record, particularly medical records managers, transcription department managers, hospital administrators, and risk managers -- and anyone interested in improving communication between medical record personnel and physicians. It should be required reading as well for students, allied health professionals, nurses, physician assistants, and other members of the healthcare team. For medical transcriptionists, it's a primer on the profession and a tool to help them better decipher the "medical mush that emanates from the mouths of dictating physicians."

Kate Jackson, Editor
May 4, 1998 issue of For The Record Magazine

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1 comment:

Viola said...

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