What is a Medical Scribe?
Medical scribes have become increasingly popular with the introduction of patient electronic health records (EHRs). A medical scribe inputs patient documentation into the EHR, essentially acting as an extension of the provider’s arm. The scribe is responsible for inputting the information from the patient’s visit into the EHR under the direction of the healthcare provider to assist in delivering the best possible patient care.
How Does a Medical Scribe Help the Physician?
Electronic Health Records require someone to enter information into a computer not only utilizing free text for the note, but also entering discrete data for backend reporting and ensuring HHC/Quality metrics are accurately being met. If this task is left to the physicians, it means they have less time to dedicate to their patients while they are in the exam room as well as less time throughout the day to see more patients and/or increase Face-to-Face time with the patients who need it most. With the assistance of a medical scribe, the provider can spend less time on the computer, breaking the barrier between the physician and patient in the room and allowing the provider greater freedom in their schedules. This leads to an improved lifestyle and increased job satisfaction for the physician.
Since the medical scribe relieves the provider of the task of documentation, the physician can spend more time directly talking with patients. This allows the doctor to achieve greater insight into each individual and provide targeted and situation-specific health care. This also gives the patient the opportunity to enjoy the physician’s undivided attention during his or her visit, thus building a stronger provider-patient relationship and leads to increased patient satisfaction.
What is the Difference Between an In-Person Medical Scribe and a Virtual Scribe?
A virtual medical scribe provides all the support and offers all the benefits of an in-person medical scribe, except with a multitude of added benefits. A virtual scribe provides real-time administrative support without being physically present in the exam room. The virtual scribe like the in-person scribe documents directly into the organization’s EMR utilizing templates, smartphrases, etc., specific to each provider’s wants and needs. A virtual medical scribe utilizes HIPAA-compliant software, not only from a security standpoint of the software but also the HIPAA compliance of audio only (no video) in the patient room. With a simple tap of the finger the physician is instantly connected in real-time with the virtual medical scribe. Medical scribes assist both the physician and the patient in experiencing a better, more fulfilling office visit.
Benefits of Using Virtual Scribe vs. In-person Scribe
Just as with having a medical scribe on site, physicians are freed up from spending time on administrative tasks. A virtual scribe can offer cost savings over an in-house medical scribe, as the virtual team model allows scribes to be more efficient, effectively be utilized by multiple providers and eliminates the need to provide office space. Most patients prefer not to have another person physically in the exam room with them, thus virtual medical scribes feels less intrusive and the patient is more comfortable with the provider to determine what is really going on. This can help build a better relationship between the patient and the provider. If your practice is in a rural area, a full-time scribe on site may not be practical, making a virtual scribe a much better fit. In metropolitan areas, it is very difficult to find enough qualified scribes to meet the demand of the physicians. The retention rate for an in-person scribe is typically 3 months. With a virtual medical scribe, providers can save time, enjoy a more efficient workflow, take advantage of medical scribe coverage 24/7 and never have to worry about retraining the correct number of scribes. Additional benefits of virtual medical scribes include:
- Real-time administrative support without being physically present in the exam room, creating comfortability between provider and patient while also not intruding on the clinical office space
- More affordable option and half the cost of an in-person scribe
- Team Model eliminates the HR issues of 1:1 in-person scribes providing 24/7 support and you never have to deal with sick days, tardiness or vacation time
- Natural attrition is trained internally, and the provider does not experience a change in virtual scribe team
- Assistance for providers in any location
- Providers can work at their natural pace with no missed documentation due to recordings
- Higher billable documentation due to precharting, communication management (letters, patient portal, staff messaging, etc.,) referral management, ordering, discrete data entry for immunizations, histories, allergies, etc., telephone encounters, looking up past imaging/results for the provider, as well as standard SOAP note documentation with the added benefits of more accurate, thorough encounters
- Ability for providers to review documentation in real-time utilizing screen share
- Assistance with HCC/Quality metrics and previsit planning (entering discrete information into the EMR before the visit occurs)
- Program can be utilized as a tool in physician recruitment as well as adoption of a new EMR
- A high ROI in terms of provider satisfaction, decreasing documentation time throughout the day as well as “pajama time”, increase provider encounters, higher coding due to accurate, more thorough data entry and increased Face-to-Face time
Hire Medical Scribes for Your Office
Medical scribes – whether in-house at your medical practice or virtually assisting you, offer critical support to physicians, patients, and medical office staff by providing a necessary and valuable service. Hiring a medical scribe for your office can help promote teamwork, improve output and relieve providers and staff of vital but time-consuming administrative duties. Their assistance can also mean an increase in patient load, increased Face-to-Face time with the patients who need it most, and/or offer a better work-life balance to assist in eliminating physician burnout. When vital patient visit documentation is outsourced to a medical scribe, physician and staff have more time to spend on other mission-critical tasks.