As part of my upcoming move to Los Angeles, I spend a part of every day scanning the various job boards for gainful employment opportunities in the Southland. I often come across job descriptions like this:
- The NextGen Consultant will have to know Business Data Analytics and NextGen HQM
- EMR/EPM Data Conversion experts
- HIPPA and security audit for NextGen customers
- Will be responsible for technical and Infrastructure, Performance Improvements, updates
- Template edits experts with knowledge of old and new templates (new KBM)
- NextGen consultants with PCMH (Primary Care Medical Home) and ACO expertise.
Why the editor/writer job agent I set up sent this to my inbox is far beyond my understanding of search algorithms. The job description itself was far beyond my understanding of anything.
The English-language version of this electronic want ad might have simply said that the employer is looking for a consultant with expertise in NextGen software for electronic health records. I found it interesting that whoever wrote the job description found it necessary to define only PCHM (Primary Care Medical Home) among its requirements for someone versed in HQM (health quality measures), EMR/EPM (electronic medical records/practice management), HIPPA (I suspect that was meant to be HIPAA — Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), KBM (I’m guessing that’s key business metrics and not kingdom building ministries) and ACQ (in this context, I assume that’s appraisal cost of quality).
I can imagine that the job description was written this way to keep out the riff-raff — if you don’t know what all that means, you’re not qualified to do it. Fair enough. But it also serves as a reminder of the use of language as a way to foster a culture of exclusivity. You have to learn the lingo to be accepted into the cool kids club.
Imagine if the NextGen job was aimed at teenagers (for all I know, maybe it is). I can hear the taunting. “Dude — you don’t know what EMR/EPM data conversion is? How lame is that?”
This isn’t an attack on the health-care software industry or any other industry in particular. We all use language designed to convey a message of “I know something you don’t know.” Journalism is rife with insider language and its own set of confusing acronyms. I could tell you about my intense dislike of DACS lines, but I don’t want to put you to sleep.
Jargon does have its uses. It allows much faster communication within industries. Acronyms save time, and paper, for that matter. But businesses, corporations and certain professions that have to deal with the general public need to be much more judicious in its use.
Take the law, for example. I’ve long railed against the incomprehensibility of the average legal brief. They’re peppered with archaic language and references that simply aren’t necessary. The resistance in the profession to clearer use of language is often chalked up to tradition. What that really means is that law schools teach it that way, because the previous generation of law school professors taught it that way.
It also gives lawyers (and software engineers and stockbrokers and many other professionals) control over their clients. You need them to decipher the code. Billable hours would drop like a stone if documents were written in standard English.
IMHO, it’s mostly BS. But WTF. Time for a BLT. FWIW.