Advances in medicine have ensured that doctors can treat patients more effectively than ever before but it’s also led to a seemingly impossible workload for doctors. In particular, the clerical work involved in retrieving and recording patient information has proved to be a major obstacle for doctors providing the level of primary care they’re capable of. Thankfully help is at hand in the form of a virtual scribe.
How Do Medical Scribes Help Doctors?
Born out of a need to counter the bureaucracy of modern healthcare, medical scribes work alongside doctors as their personal assistants. The primary role of a scribe is to handle the clerical side of a patient’s visit so this can include the following:
Retrieving the patient’s notes (and any relevant test results) from their Electronic Health Record (EHR) to provide essential background information for the doctors
Charting the patient’s visit and recording all the relevant information such as coding progress notes prescription information and action plans
Generating referral letters when consultations with specialty physicians are required to provide further diagnosis and treatment in specific areas of medicine
Taking on any other additional duties deemed worthy by the doctor such as planning appointments making travel arrangements etc
Traditionally medical scribes have been in-house assistants who provide a physical presence in the doctor’s exam room. And it’s proved to be a tremendous success with not only doctors receiving a whole host of benefits but also patients due to the enhanced care their doctors can now provide. However, the concept of a medical scribe is still a relatively recent one so there’s certainly room for improvement.
Taking Medical Scribes to a New Level
Whilst there are plenty of services available for providing in-house scribes or even remote scribes connected by audio here at VA.care we’ve decided to push the envelope a little further. And we’ve achieved this by discovering a major enhancement in the world of medical scribes: 100% virtual scribes.
Yes, that’s right a medical scribe who doesn’t need to be physically located in the doctor’s exam room or restricted to a purely auditory presence. And let’s face it a disembodied voice just doesn’t offer that same level of engagement does it? Instead through the use of an iPad and HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software we can provide a virtual medical scribe/assistant from our vast pool of trained vetted and screened virtual assistants based in the Philippines.
You may be wondering what exactly it is that marks out our virtual scribes/assistants from the more traditional approaches to medical scribes. After all “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it but healthcare has always prided itself on embracing innovation and when it comes to medical scribes it’s no different. Packed full of unique benefits virtual scribes can prove to be the difference between great care and world-class care.
The Benefits of a Virtual Scribe
A cost-effective solution
There’s a reason why so many tasks are outsourced abroad in the modern age and that’s due to the global economy providing a wealth of affordable alternatives. Sure we may wish to use home-grown materials where possible but we live in highly competitive times so it makes sense to outsource abroad in order to get the best deal.
There are a number of financial benefits for using virtual scribes and the most immediate bonus comes in the form of a reduced wage bill each month – the holy grail of financial management for any organization. However virtual scribes also come with virtually no overheads attached compared to in-person scribes who require space equipment and amenities so this can make a real difference to the accounts every month.
All these savings soon add up so this provides doctors with the opportunity to invest more of their profits into improving their practice. And due to the fact that this investment brings even further benefits to the practice, it should come as no surprise that more and more doctors are turning to virtual medical scribes to take advantage of these enhancements.
Virtual scribes are real time savers
Scribes are primarily used to lessen the administrative load on doctors and you can’t escape from just how beneficial this is. The EHR has helped to revolutionize the sharing of data for doctors but it’s also brought a significant amount of extra work that doctors struggle to find time to get to grips with.
Pulling up a patient’s record investigating their history and updating their notes can take 7 minutes so even on a quiet day – seeing around 25 patients – this can set a doctor back by two and a half hours. And as I’m sure you’re aware this amount of time is highly valuable for doctors as in healthcare time is a valuable asset. With a scribe on hand though opportunities are suddenly opened up for doctors to concentrate on management publishing and more importantly seeing more patients.
And a virtual scribe provides a further benefit as the workload is lessened on your in-house staff; this allows your staff to be freed up to concentrate on income generation in the form of ancillary testing and procedures. This, in turn, can lead to increased wages and bonuses for your staff which can boost morale and maximize the level of customer service being delivered.
Gives patients better relationships with doctors
During their appointments, patients want to feel as though their doctor’s attention is fully focused upon them and their concerns. And although the EHR provides many benefits for the patient and doctor a patient can soon feel as though there’s a lack of engagement if a doctor is concentrating on updating the system whilst listening to the client.
The advent of medical scribes has ensured that doctors can now concentrate on engaging with their patients; with a scribe in place, a doctor no longer has to constantly be shifting their attention to a computer screen and keyboard. Instead, the doctor can concentrate on the important aspects of patient care: listening and advising. This approach – simple as it may sound – reassures the patient that the doctor is paying attention and leads to greater patient satisfaction a crucial commodity and one that all doctors are looking to maximize.
The one drawback of having an in-person scribe is that the examination room can be a highly personal setting. Many patients may become anxious that someone else is present due to the invasive and personal nature of their appointment. A virtual scribe however nullifies this anxiety as patients find them less intrusive and they help to maintain that age-old feeling of privacy in the doctor’s office.
Virtual scribes save valuable space
An in-person scribe is certainly on hand for any immediate requests from a doctor but so is a virtual scribe and their digital workplace means that there’s absolutely zero need to accommodate them at the doctor’s practice. All that the doctor needs to use a virtual scribe is an iPad, this is in sharp contrast to an in-person scribe who may require desks, chairs, stationary, and even a locker.
The valuable real estate that this opens up in the doctor’s practice can then be used to further the capabilities of the office. New equipment can be installed and additional storage space can be created so the doctor may find that they’re able to enhance their abilities to treat patients and run a practice that isn’t cramped and lacking in storage space.
A pool of virtual scribes provide unparalleled cover
Many doctors may travel around several different settings during any one day so an in-person scribe attached to that doctor will need to travel with them to provide their scribe services. Not only can this present a logistical nightmare but there are also travel costs to factor in. Whilst this can be a major drawback for in-person scribes, there’s no such obstacle presented by virtual scribes. As long as there’s an iPad and an internet connection on hand then virtual scribes can carry out their duties no matter where the doctor is working.
Virtual scribes represent a safe option
There’s always a concern about the legitimacy and safety of remote workers particularly those who are working abroad. However, VA.care works painstakingly hard to ensure that our virtual scribes meet the high standards of security that we demand.
In particular, all of our contractors are based in the Philippines where the government keen to foster relationships abroad has enacted the Data Privacy Act of 2012. This act ensures that all sensitive data is heavily protected and the ramifications of breaching these guidelines are very severe.
All of the virtual scribes available through VA.care have been individually vetted and hold HIPAA certificates to further underline their understanding of data security. The peace of mind that this delivers can make a real difference to a doctor’s sense of security particularly when we live in an age of data breaches and leaks.
There’s a rich vein of dedication running through virtual scribes: Many in-house scribes are merely using the position as a medical scribe as a stepping stone to further career advancement in the healthcare field. College students for example regularly apply to work as medical scribes in order
To gain experience in the primary care field. Whilst they are without questions dedicated to the cause these sojourns as medical scribes are only ever temporary.
With the virtual scribes provided by VA.care though there’s more of a long-term prospect on offer. Whilst the virtual scribes in our pool tend to have a certain level of experience in the medical world (for example are registered nurses), the attractive salaries on offer as a virtual scribe are in sharp comparison to those available in the Philippines.
And this is why a virtual scribe is more likely to become a long-term asset in your practice and provide more day-to-day experience and continuity than a procession of college students.