Using Virtual Scribes and Telemedicine During the Coronavirus
As global concern surrounding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak grows, patient volume is rapidly increasing, and medical providers and their families are being directly affected. There has also been a marked increase in the introduction of telemedicine (telehealth) for healthcare professionals. Telemedicine or telehealth refers to the practice of caring for patients in a remote manner. This is made possible by evolving technology and HIPPA-Compliant video-conferencing tools. Skywriter MD, a real-time US-based virtual scribe company, understands the current outbreak is worrisome and placing an increased demand on providers. Below we have provided some useful material on utilizing virtual resources for providers during this difficult time.
Coronavirus Brings an Increase in Patient Volumes
While COVID-19 brings life to a standstill, demand for access to providers requires them to be on the front lines, face-to-face with patients. Not only is this potentially affecting their health, but some providers are choosing to isolate themselves from their family to stop the spread. In turn, this starts to affect a provider’s mental health, in an industry that already continues to see alarming rates of burnout and early retirement. Workforce absenteeism from personal or family illness as well as school closures can greatly affect the healthcare professional’s ability to provide direct care as well. Due to these reasons, providers are turning to alternative measures for patient care with no direct contact, including telemedicine and virtual scribing.
For most providers, the introduction of telemedicine (telehealth) is an increasing technological burden when they are already overwhelmed with the typical EMR secretarial burden all day, every day. In some cases, telemedicine is the only choice to observe social distancing, have the capacity to care for the influx of patients (especially with mild symptoms), and keep physician satisfaction up.
Using Virtual Medical Scribes
Utilizing a real-time virtual medical scribe solution eliminates the extra personnel in office, allowing the provider to still provide care while only coming into contact with the patient. In addition, virtual medical scribes decrease the documentation burden allowing providers to see more patients. This is increasingly important during a time when our medical system is seeing an influx of patients each day. Whether via telehealth video conferencing, phone interactions, or in office, virtual scribes help to increase the patient throughput, while relieving providers of documentation tasks.
Increasing the use of Telehealth and Virtual Scribes
- Healthcare facilities can increase the use of telephone management and other remote methods of triaging, assessing, and caring for all patients to decrease the volume of persons seeking care in facilities.
- Video conferencing allows visible provider-patient interaction.
- Utilizing a real-time virtual scribe method eliminates the extra personnel in office as well as decreases the documentation burden allowing providers to see more patients whether via telehealth video conferencing, phone interactions, or in office.
- If a formal “telehealth” system is not available, healthcare providers can still communicate with patients by telephone (instead of visits), reducing the number of those who seek Face-to-Face care.
- Health plans, healthcare systems and insurers/payors should message beneficiaries to promote the availability of covered telehealth, telemedicine, or nurse advice line services
We have included the link below for clinicians to utilize for guidance during these times below: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html
Skywriter MD continues to follow protective measures set by the CDC and WHO, while maintaining operations for our providers. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html