Medical scribes have come a long way since they first appeared as notetakers for emergency room clinicians in the 1970s. Ever since the federal HITECH Act incentivized healthcare providers to adopt EHRs, scribing has become a fast-growing field in the U.S., with the workforce expanding from 15,000 in 2015 to approximately 100,000 in 2020.
As part of a growing job segment in healthcare, scribes can be expensive, costing as much as $50,000 per year per scribe. They’re also hard to scale across healthcare organizations if an individual scribe is assigned to a physician per shift.
The solution to challenges with cost and scale? Virtual medical scribing.
According to Fortune, before COVID-19, most scribes—typically young, aspiring health professionals—worked in the exam room a few paces away from the doctor and patient. Last year, as the pandemic led patients to shun clinics and hospitals, numerous scribes were laid off or furloughed. Many have returned, but scribes are increasingly working virtually—even from the other side of the world. And let’s be honest, do we really want extra people in the examination room during a pandemic?
In a synchronous solution, a virtual medical scribe is connected with the clinician during a patient encounter to complete the documentation in real time. But in an asynchronous solution, a virtual medical scribe completes patient documentation later, after the encounter.
If virtual medical scribing is new to your organization, here are three benefits to consider:
1. Increase patient access to care
Telehealth became a standard way to treat patients throughout the pandemic since it eliminates barriers to patient care. Similarly, virtual scribes are available 24/7 at any location, including rural or critical access hospitals where in-person scribes are difficult or impossible to find. Coverage is always available with virtual scribes.
2. Improve patient satisfaction
Patient satisfaction related to virtual medical scribes can vary by specialty and region. Best practice is to constantly survey patients to ensure they value your organization’s investment. According to a 2017 study, patients reported high levels of satisfaction across multiple domains related to the presence of medical scribes. While this study highlights patient satisfaction for in-person scribes, it’s important to measure patient expectations during a pandemic. For instance, preference for fewer people in the exam room minimizes COVID-19 risk, so virtual scribes are a natural alternative. A virtual scribe can also put patients at ease when disclosing private health information since the scribe is not physically present in the room.
3. Enhance physician satisfaction and efficiency
Medical scribes are intended to take the documentation burden off physicians, reducing the amount of time physicians spend entering information into the EHR. As physician burnout continues to be a challenge, engaging virtual medical scribes can significantly improve physician satisfaction and efficiency. To help achieve that goal, determine whether medical scribes are able to reduce or eliminate physician time in the EHR, including submitting requests for insurance company approval of procedures, drugs, tests, etc.
Documentation should not take away from focus on the patient. DeliverHealth scribes can help with the following challenges:
- Poor chart quality and accuracy
- Missed documentation of billable treatments or DRGs
- Delayed chart completion
- Delayed patient billing
- Denials and delayed reimbursement
Our scribes document the patient encounter, so your physicians enjoy more face time with patients. It’s a win-win for patient care, physician satisfaction and your revenue cycle. For more information visit www.deliverhealth.com/provider-solutions/scribing.