Physicians have been increasingly plagued by growing administrative and documentation tasks that eat away at their time from providing quality care to patients for the past decade. Virtual medical scribes are an emerging solution to this physician burden. They can efficiently handle these tasks and free up physicians’ time to focus on more important patient care duties. This article discusses how virtual medical scribes work and why they’re an efficient solution to physician burden.
The Role of the Medical Scribe
Today’s medical scribe acts as an extension of the physician and plays multiple roles during patient visits. The scribe’s primary responsibility is note-taking; however, other responsibilities may include entering data into EHR systems, acting as a liaison between patients and physicians, transcribing dictation from audio recording devices, and providing general support to physicians throughout their daily routines.
While some physicians rely on medical scribes for mundane tasks like charting, others view them as trusted members of their health care team who can assist with more than just basic note-taking. There is no question that today’s modern medical scribe has taken their place within healthcare.
With an increase in physician shortage and increased workload per provider, many physicians are turning to virtual medical scribes as a valuable tool to improve patient satisfaction while reducing the burden on their practice.
Benefits of virtual medical scribe services
The biggest benefit of virtual medical scribe services is that they can reduce physician burden by taking over paperwork and dictation duties. Physicians can then focus more time on patient care. These services also eliminate transcription costs, which frees up more capital for other purposes. In fact, with these cost savings alone, many facilities consider themselves ROI positive quickly. Other benefits include:
- Flexibility – They’re available when you need them, wherever you need them.
- Eliminate costs and training – You pay only for what you use, eliminating unnecessary overhead.
- Increase productivity – Data entry is eliminated.
- Speed up workflow – Access, and transfer of patients’ information is immediate.
A Vital Tool to Reduce Physician Burden
Although more efficient, scribes also help physicians spend less time on documentation and administrative tasks, which allows them to spend more time with patient care. Physicians now have one less thing to worry about when treating patients and focus their attention on what is truly important: delivering effective and efficient care.
A well-trained scribe takes notes on behalf of their physician and can take down more information in fewer words than most physicians. Even with years of experience under their belt, most physicians admit that note-taking is not their strongest skill. Scribes have been proven to provide medical records with better quality and fewer errors. This relieves both stresses from other hospital staff and patients themselves.
The Technology Behind Virtual Medical Scribes
For physicians to meet their heavy workload, they need an assistant that can support them by doing things such as entering vitals and charting patient history. This is where virtual medical scribes come in. Using a tablet or smartphone app, these healthcare professionals can do what needs to be done, so doctors have more time for patient care. The result? A win-win scenario – happy doctors and happier patients.
Electronic health records are a great way for virtual medical scribes to support doctors: Physicians often record patient information in their electronic health record (EHR) system. With that being said, it takes time to do so, and with virtual medical scribes, you can reduce those tedious data entry activities and have more time for other things like educating patients and communicating with specialists.
Impact on Patient Care
Physicians can spend up to half of their time with patients taking notes on paper. Using medical scribes frees physicians from clerical tasks and allows them more time for patient care and building meaningful relationships.
Physicians using scribes have reduced errors in medication and procedure administration and documentation and improved the throughput of patients. This has allowed physicians more time with patients and added value to patient-physician relationships and financial bottom lines.
There are many benefits for everyone involved when adopting medical scribe technology, including patients, physicians, hospitals, practice management systems, and most importantly—scribes themselves. Because of scribe use, patients spend more time with their physicians. Due to being freed from note-taking duties, physicians are more in-tune with patients and provide better quality care during shorter appointment times.
Prompt and Thorough Chart Completion
The medical scribe can capture essential patient history points and track vital signs in real-time. We have observed that physicians who utilize a medical scribe spend more time face-to-face with their patients, facilitating better care. Physicians also benefit from improved charting quality, as virtual medical scribes act as accurate data entry clerks, capturing thorough notes in compliance with standards of practice.
Improving physician-patient communication is one of many benefits of medical scribes. Since they function as patient liaisons, relaying pertinent information back and forth between physicians and patients, virtual medical scribes can impact physician-patient interaction.
Physicians can also complete more paperwork because virtual medical scribes do so on their behalf. The majority of time spent writing notes by physicians is simply dictating information back into EHRs, which doesn’t require full responses. Many note-taking tasks can easily be delegated to an efficient and reliable team member, such as a medical scribe.
Increased Feeling of Privacy
With virtual medical scribes, there isn’t a stranger in the room with the patients. This gives an increased feeling of privacy for those who may have been otherwise uncomfortable with having someone else present during their doctor’s visit. Virtual medical scribes also allow doctors to focus more on each patient and their needs. With a scribe taking care of all note-taking, documentation, and communicating with other professionals involved in treating that particular patient, there is less distraction from the paperwork that can occur during an appointment. This makes it easier for physicians to pay attention to what’s most important, their patients’ needs, rather than worrying about paperwork or information being missed because of distractions or confusion as to whose responsibility it is to enter said information into systems after leaving an appointment.