Healthcare is an essential service along with the other basic necessities like air, water, food, clothing and housing. Therefore the practice of healthcare requires that healthcare professionals and other entities associated with healthcare come under a strict code of ethics.
Medical transcription is a profession closely associated with the healthcare industry in both the commercial and operational aspects by documenting the patient-healthcare professional encounter.
The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) has come up with the guidelines for code of conduct for healthcare documentation professionals. The code of ethics for medical transcription professionals are as follows:
- Maintain confidentiality of all patient information including but not limited to peer reviews, quality improvement and risk management protocols with special effort to maintain data security in electronic communications.
- Implement and maintain standards of professional transcription practice. Respect the rights and dignity of all individuals.
- Continue professional growth enhancing knowledge and skills, including continuing education, networking with colleagues, professional reading and certification.
- Strive to provide accurate and timely information
- Exercise integrity in professional practices including work or professional experience, credentials, affiliations, productivity reporting, billing charges and payment practices.
- Comply with all laws, regulations and standards governing the practice of patient documentation.
- Foster environments of employment that facilitate integrity, professionalism and protection of patient information.
- Strive to advance the goals and purposes of the Association and work for the advancement and good of the profession.
These are code of ethics laid by the AHDI for the members of the association as guidelines. But these code of ethics can be used as guidelines by all entities who are in the business of medical transcription.
Based on the code of ethics a medical transcription service provider has to run its operations:
- Maintaining confidentiality of patient information: Confidentiality of patient information should be maintained at all levels. The confidentiality of the data needs to be maintained at all the stages, during transmission, during usage and during storage using appropriate measures
- Implementing and maintaining professional standards of transcription: The service provider should maintain and implement professional standards of transcription by training the transcriptionists rigorously in one or two specialities enabling them to meet standards of accuracy and turnaround time.
- Continuously enhancing the skills of medical transcriptionists through education: The service provider should educate their team of medical transcriptionists by constantly updating their knowledge base on the latest developments in the field of medicine.
- Provide timely information: Timely information should be provided by the service provider whenever required.
- Exercising integrity in billing practices: The method of billing should fulfill all the billing method principles of being verifiable, measurable, definable, consistent and fair & honest.
- Complying with the laws of patient documentation: The service provider needs to be aware of and comply with all the laws that apply to patient documentation
- Foster the right atmosphere for professionalism and ethics: The service provider needs to create an atmosphere which enables an atmosphere of professionalism.
While outsourcing medical transcription care should be taken to source a service provider who can not only provide accurate transcription services, in a timely manner, using the right technology, through secure means and at reasonable prices, but also follows the code of ethics as recommended by AHDI.