In regards to widespread EHR adoption, one of the top concerns among physicians and patients is maintaining privacy and security of sensitive medical information. Interoperable health information is another worry, as federal standards for an EHR require that it have the capacity to share health data between physicians, medical facilities, and state and federal governments. These are justifiable concerns that may be restraining physicians and medical practices from racing onto the health information highway.

Transcribed physician notes are dictated to provide in-depth detail of their patients’ care and treatment. With an EHR, this dictation must be translated into digitized information and assimilated. However, converting transcriptions into a secure, digitized format for electronic sharing with other doctors, hospitals and health care providers is a challenge without a unified format for the exchange of this information. In recent news, it was announced that the Medical Transcription Industry Association (MTIA) and ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon Business, have formed a consortium to tackle this endeavor.

The major goal of the Medical Transcription Service Consortium (MTSC) is to develop a common framework for the digitization of transcribed dictated records, including interoperability standards for the fastidious and protected exchange of data among health care providers. This is a timely endeavor, as the MTIA estimates that its member companies annually create and electronically archive more than 2.4 billion transcribed medical records, involving more than 70 percent of all U.S. physicians.

Peter Preziosi, the MTIA’s chief executive officer, said, “Medical transcription is a critical part of the U.S. health care industry, and the creation of the consortium will help the industry increase the electronic exchange of patient data through a common set of standards. By enabling the sector to move toward quicker adoption of standards-compliant health records, a key goal of the federal government, the health care industry will be able to accelerate the use of electronic health records and ensure greater access to the critical patient information among all health care providers.”

In addition to ICSA Labs and the MTIA, the charter members of the consortium are Verizon and several medical transcription companies: MD-IT, MedQuist, MxSecure, Sten-Tel and Webmedx. Verizon Business will develop the new IT platform that will securely carry the digitized transcribed notes of physicians for consortium members.  It will be designed and deployed using security best practices, allowing for objective testing and certification for privacy, security and interoperability.

This is a tremendous step forward in health IT. As we race into EHR adoption, IT professionals must recognize their role in merging transcription and EHR technologies, protecting sensitive medical information and creating the capacity to share it. The newly founded MTSC consortium is evidence that IT has taken the driver’s seat in EHR security and interoperability, and is moving full speed ahead to create industry standards for safe and secure EHR adoption and use.