A WIN FOR VIRTUAL MEDICAL SCRIBES
Physicians are now hiring medical scribes to lessen their clerical responsibilities – and PRACTICE MEDICINE AGAIN. Using scribes will decrease their documentation time, enhance their patient interaction, and increase revenue – because self-documentation clicks in an EMR is simply not the best use of their time.
The drawbacks to physical medical scribes :
- Limited physical space for the extra person in the exam room
- Time necessary to train scribes on specific EMRs
- Coordinating physician/scribe hours, vacations, and calls
- Retraining as scribes come and go at an extremely high rate
- Patients want this discreet time with their doctor
VIRTUAL SCRIBES provide an alternative to these concerns.
Virtual scribes listen to the audio encounter, listen to the physician/patient interaction, and create notes within your EMR as directed by the physician. The virtual scribe works in a remote location allowable by HIPAA, using their own hardware and software. They navigate the EMR, can enter orders, locate labs, order prescriptions, add coding and billing information. The physician records the encounter and the virtual scribe enters encounter data into your native EMR.
*Cost. A physical scribe can earn between $27,000 and $48,000 per year, which will cost the employer (all in) between $32,000 and $58,000. A virtual medical scribe costs about $12,000 or $23,000, depending on the physician’s patient schedule.
*More options. The cost of physical scribes creates pressure to see more patients in order to cover their costs. Virtual scribes cost significantly less, which unburdens the physician so he or she can improve their work-life and family balance. Virtual scribes can be called upon when needed, and are typically paid on a productivity basis. No more physical scribes standing around waiting for something to do between patients. The virtual scribe is simply more efficient and discreet.
*Reliability. Let’s face it. Often medical scribes are medical school students pursuing nursing or medical school, and scribing is a short-term way to earn money. Large medical scribe staffing companies simply cannot meet the needs of the physicians as the scribes are often pulled away from their work responsibility to focus on their education. Reliability is the single biggest complaint physicians have with physical scribes. Staffing companies rotate scribes to different offices and specialties, which disrupts workflow and training within different practice EMRs. The cross-training of specialties makes inherent sense for the staffing company, but it complicates and disrupts physician workflow and documentation preferences. Virtual scribes are assigned to specific doctors, with training and redundancy, which allows familiarity and a more partnered approach vs. a revolving staffing approach. For these reasons they are proven to be more reliable, thorough, and accurate, streamlining documentation while increasing reimbursements.
*Small Exam Rooms. Examination rooms are already too small. An additional person in the room is not comfortable for most patients. Additionally, when that extra person is clicking to navigate the EMR, it is distracting and an invasion of privacy for many patients.
*Remote Areas. Virtual scribes are more suitable to practices in more remote locations as physical scribes may be harder to staff. A virtual scribe can be anywhere at any time without having a physical presence. The use of remote scribes in different time zones enhances turnaround times for stats.
*Scheduling Conflicts. A physician and scribe need to be scheduled and coordinated. Sick days or vacation time means the physician must fend for themselves during the scribe’s absence. A virtual medical scribe eliminates this problem. Portable devices make the transition between the central location and satellite facilities seamless.
*Medical Language/EMR Specialists. Many virtual scribes have many years of experience as medical transcriptionists. They know the language; they understand the requirements for the patient record. Uniquely qualified, they are sticklers for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, in addition to their experience creating templates and shortcuts for rapid turnaround.
*Flexible Availability. Virtual scribes are available when needed, but can help other physicians when not needed. Typically paid on a productivity basis, they are only paid when they are working with no downtime. Virtual medical scribe services mean the physician can dictate using their cell phone from any location to get caught up with charts, or in the evening or weekends while being on-call.
Virtual medical scribes are an excellent alternative to the headaches of an in-house scribe. They offer deeply reduced cost, reduction in training, and increased flexibility. Virtual scribes can offer the physician increased revenue, improved work-life balance, and decrease physician burnout. Physicians are overwhelmed by their clerical and documentation requirements combined with the false promise of ‘ease-of-use’ EMRs. Physicians are not clerks, and CEOs need to wake up to the amount of time wasted by physicians who could be seeing more patients, whose charts could be more thorough for greater legitimate reimbursement.
Offering reliability, simplicity, accuracy, and discretion – Virtual medical scribes have proven remote services have much more to offer at a reduced cost.
- Kelly Brent, MedScribe EMR Solutions