AAMT and Thomson Prometric Use Audio to Create

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The American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT) recently introduced its new Certified Medical Transcription exam, the first knowledge assessment exam to blend traditional multiple-choice test questions with audio technology.


Before deployment of this new computer-based exam, the performance portion of the exam for medical transcription certification posed a number of problems for the primarily home-based employees and independent contractors. Candidates were forced to find their own testing site and proctor, which often required bringing part or all of their transcribing equipment to the test site. After those obstacles were tackled, test-takers had to wait as long as three months before receiving their hand-graded scores, which severely limited the number of exams that could be delivered in a single year. None of the transcriptionists abroad in countries like the Philippines or India were even eligible for the performance section of the exam unless they traveled to the United States to take the test.


“We wanted to look into a better method of delivery that would overcome the obstacles that our transcriptionists had to take the exam, also that it could be computer-scored and they could get their scores immediately,” said Ann Donnelly, director for certification, American Association for Medical Transcription. “That was the old process. We knew that we had to have a better way of testing to open up our entire population.”


Thomson Prometric entered the picture to help enable the technology not only to mass-produce the test, but also to deploy the audio component or sound files necessary to create a relevant performance-based testing experience. “We wanted to simulate as closely as possible the actual work that they would be doing,” Donnelly said. “Medical transcriptionists transcribe the dictation from doctors, or in some cases edit and proofread as part of the job. We needed to be able to deliver the audio files, the actual dictation piece from physicians in order to test a candidate’s real skills. We no longer are limited to having a tape and sending it out to a candidate. Now they can go to a test center, and the software is on the computer in the test center.”


Candidates are judged or graded on a complex set of parameters for industry standards that include accuracy and spelling. “As more and more regulations come into affect as far as patient privacy, accuracy, patient safety and the reimbursement factor, it’s the documentation of the patients’ care that really determines the reimbursement and revenue cycle for the hospital,” Donnelly said. “All of this is based on the accuracy of the record, and hospitals are demanding better-educated, better-qualified transcriptionists to do their work and document the health care that’s been provided.”


The AAMT is currently working on plans to roll out an entry-level or basic transcriptionist exam that will test the knowledge and skills of new graduates.


Kellye Whitney is associate editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at kellyew@certmag.com.

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