Monday, January 30, 2012

Shrunken Terminology ~ Know Your Acronyms

Most of us have heard the story of the woman that sent a text to family members informing them of the death of a loved one and then ended the text with "LOL"... assuming that acronym meant "Lots Of Love".  (for those of you that are still 20 years behind on tech/abbreviated communication, LOL = laughing out loud)  I question her method of choice when informing others of a relatives passing more than her lack of knowledge when it comes to text-speak, but lets move on.  When reviewing a teenager's text history one can become boggled by the new shorthand that has been created since texting and twitter became the #1 form of communication.  Here are just a few examples:
BABY = Being Annoyed By You
WTH = What the Hell?!
CBB = Can't Be Bothered
G2G = Good To Go
IDK = I Don't Know
The acronym trend is growing and some people, mostly age 30 & under are actually starting to speak this way.  Is it due to laziness?  Are we so bombarded by information that we must shorten terms to absorb it all?  Are we in such a hurry that typing or speaking the entire term would be too time consuming?
When it comes to large corporations, using acronyms to shorten terminology has been around for a very long time, the same can be said for government/military terms as well.  Here are a few examples:
CTG = Computer Task Group
HIT or HCIT = Healthcare Information Technology
COB = Close of Business
CEO = Chief Executive Officer
POV = Privately Owned Vehicle
POW = Prisoner Of War
BDU = Battle Dress Uniform

The list goes on and on and on.  The use of acronyms is also abundant in the Healthcare Technology Industry.  Most EMR (there is one example) systems have multiple acronyms that describe specific technology or specific job titles, not to mention the various healthcare acronyms for various areas such as the "OR" (Operating Room) or "ER" (Emergency Room).  When creating a resume or creating an online profile on a social networking site like linkedin it is important to spell out the terminology along with the acronym, or eliminate the acronym all together.  Spell check will not catch incorrect acronyms and often will auto-correct them instead.  For instance, EHR (Electronic Health Record) is often auto-corrected to HER. 
HIMSS (The Health Information & Management Systems Society) has created a booklet with over 2700 Healthcare IT related acronyms and terms which is available for purchase.
In addition, there are many web sites that offer a shortlist, such as: or . 
The rule of thumb should be when in doubt, spell it out!
IOH.  This was JM2C but UGTP, so I'm going to get  a *$ and GB2W!
(I'm out of here,. This was just my two cents but you get the point, so I'm going to get  a starbucks and get back to work)

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