While I don’t follow all of the MT boards online these days, I have found myself fascinated by some of the recent discussions one of the newly formed groups on Facebook. It prompted me to write about the topic above as it relates to our industry.
An Industry Full of Issues
The group appeared to begin as an effort to discuss the impact of technology on the quality of healthcare documentation. I imagine the purpose was much more than that, however, that was the first thing that came up in discussion. The moderator of the site actually set a meeting with the Joint Commission (JCAHO) to have discussion about quality in healthcare documentation as it relates to the industry. I had a brief conversation with her and shared the paper that this community created showing the errors that MTs flag or fix every day, giving her permission to share that paper with JCAHO. About a week later, there were lots of surveys “in preparation of the JCAHO meeting,” about things like MT pay rates, MT benefits, etc. At that point, I did contact this moderator because I believe, while those things are issues in our industry, they weren’t the topics that should be taken to JACHO as it’s not a part of their mission. I didn’t want our study getting confused in issues unrelated to the quality of documentation. It was her belief that JCAHO needed to hear the entire picture. At that meeting, what was learned, while sad for our industry, really wasn’t surprising to me. The people she spoke with had no real idea what medical transcriptionists did, who we are, or even that there were still “people” behind the documentation process. What that says to me is that there is still so much education to be done in the broader healthcare industry, and we’ve spent way too many years preaching to the choir. On a positive note about JCAHO, I did see a post recently that Linda Brady, AHDI CEO, has recently attended a meeting with them related to quality documentation. That could be a great step in re-educating that organization.
The topics on this particular board have really been all over the place. From MT pay, technology, independent contractor status, what system might be the best one to use, you name it, I think we’ve seen it there. All of this is presented in an effort to “find the truth” about our industry. And is “truth” the same thing as “facts.” And whose facts?
Recently the discussion centered around the us of the independent contractor (IC) status for medical transcriptionists who contract with medical transcription services. It is this moderator’s belief that this status is an illegal one. She gives a list of places she has talked to, even cited a court case or two where the service was found to be in violation of labor laws. What I found interesting is that there were also several MTs who talked about their own status as an IC and how there are ways that it can be done correctly and within the law. One even gave personal examples as well as sharing that she had been through IRS audits which proved her status was legitimate. All of these examples have, in my opinion, been dismissed as “not showing me the facts.” Then there are references made to things like the current Transcend MT lawsuit, which as you all know is not at all related to the IC issue as those folks were all employees.
In reality, unless a tax person or even an attorney had all of the facts about an individual case, there is no way to make a judgment call on this one. Even when that was pointed out, it went unnoticed. Even the IRS site, which is where the IC status comes from, not the Department of Labor, says each situation is individual.
The latest posts I’ve seen really center around a moderator telling people that she doesn’t like “mean people” and that unless you can state a name, date and time (my words, not hers), do not disagree with what she has posted.
Just The Facts, Please
In another sidebar just slipped into those posts is this statement: “I may have not gotten to all of it yet, and if you have facts about offshoring, please share them. Really hard to find data on it, the amount of it, the quality of it, the reshoring. I do know a few things about offshoring; one is, it’s legal. That is a fact.” There are no cited references for this statement, it’s just as quoted.
The first thing wrong with this one is that there is no evidence that says offshoring is illegal. Has it impacted this industry? Absolutely. Does it violate the law? I don’t think so. But wait, what about HIPAA? This one I can tell you personally is an unresounding no, it does not violate HIPAA laws. And since we’re talking facts, I got that information straight from the people at CMS who administer the HIPAA laws.
Sadly, what I can see with this particular one is lots of folks who have been impacted by offshore transcription jumping on this as if it is a fact that will somehow be “righted” by being a part of that community.
Fact Finding or Capitalism at its Best?
Once this community was build up (there are approximately 3500 people in this group now), a new website was announced. For the last few weeks one could sign up to become a charter member of the new site. What does that mean? According to what has been posted, it means you can join for a guaranteed rate of $4.99 per month. So far, it’s not really clear what the benefits of joining the site are, although I imagine that will be explained once the site is up and running.
You all know me. I am never opposed to anyone finding alternative ways to make a living. And if even half of those folks actually joined that site, that would be an income of over $8,000 a month. Not a bad gig if someone can pull it off.
What is concerning to me is that there does not seem to be a desire to look at both sides of the coin on much of anything. There seems to be a mission to “find the facts,” but only the facts that fit the group’s “truth.” This person, by her own admission, does not have a lot of years in our industry and admits that she doesn’t really know or understand how or why lots of things work the way they do. And yet, some who have posted opposing experiences have indeed been banned from the site (indeed that could be me once this goes live). So is is really about discussing issues?
I do agree there are a multitude of problems in this industry, and I applaud people who want to address them. Addressing them, however, means being sure you hear all sides of the issue and then make informed decisions for yourself.
Do Your Due Diligence
So here’s my take for this community: Do your own due diligence. There’s no question that there are lots of issues to be addressed in our industry. I am, as you know, a believer that we all have things to offer and that, as long as it’s respectful, discourse can be a good thing in helping all of us understand different points of view. That has been one of the things I have valued about this community the last five years. And while I do believe there are things that we should invest in, you also know if you’re a regular reader here, that I am a firm believer that there should be a return on investment for anything we do.
How about the rest of you? Do you have thoughts on this one? I’d love to hear them!