Medical scribes have come a long way since they first appeared as notetakers for Emergency Room clinicians in the 1970s. Today, an estimated 100,000 medical scribes work alongside providers and patients in the U.S. alone.
The good news is that scribes successfully optimize health information management workflows and reduce administrative burdens. The bad news is that hiring your own team of in-person scribes can be prohibitively expensive. Just one scribe can cost as much as $50,000 per year. And with skyrocketing labor costs pinching the margins and profits of health systems, hospitals, and physician groups right now, few organizations can afford to add to their current headcount.
Fortunately, there is a path forward: virtual medical scribes. These highly trained experts work remotely. They connect with providers and patients using the best-in-class technology. And they’re available when your providers need them the most. Let’s look at 8 benefits of virtual medical scribing and explore how scribing redefines the way patient encounters are documented today.
1. Reduced provider burnout
Right now, providers spent about 1.84 hours a day beyond regular work hours completing their EHR documentation, according to a recent JAMA Internal Medicine report. Expand that over a five-day workweek and physicians average 9.2 hours of overtime per week solely on documentation.
This is contributing to soaring rates of physician burnout, which increased from 42% five years ago to 53% in 2023. The No. 1 cause of burnout: Having too many bureaucratic tasks, which was mentioned by 61% of physicians who self-reported burnout in Medscape’s Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2023.
Medical scribes are proven to ease providers’ documentation challenges, reduce burnout, and increase provider engagement. Physicians surveyed in a study published in JAMA Dermatology offered a 3.6 average response (on a scale of 1 to 4, 4 being the highest) to the question, “using a scribe has increased my job satisfaction.”
2. Ability to choose the way you scribe
Advances in technology give providers new options when it comes to virtual scribing. The DeliverHealth platform, for example, lets physicians choose between synchronous (in real time) and asynchronous (after the fact) scribing.
What’s the difference?
With asynchronous scribing, a provider places their mobile device between them and the patient and records the encounter. Then, with the tap of a button in the eSOne app, the provider sends the recording off to a highly trained medical scribe, who completes the transcript and uploads it into the EHR of record.
Synchronous scribing raises the bar, bringing the virtual scribe directly into the patient room. Providers can speak with the scribe as needed. Scribes complete documentation during the encounter, so as soon as the patient visit ends, documentation is complete. That means no extra hours for physicians and no interruption in patient care.
Both methods bring multiple benefits. Asynchronous scribing improves an organization’s overall HIM workflow and saves providers time. Synchronous scribing does the same. What’s more, with synchronous scribing, you can have virtual scribes prepare charts in advance or order labs post-visit as directed by the physician.
3. Flexibility to use any device
Synchronous scribing through DeliverHealth gives providers the greatest flexibility when it comes to virtual scribing. Providers can use a web browser on whatever device they choose—PC, Mac, iPad, Android, tablet—to complete their documentation. That means your organization already has the technology you need to reap all the benefits of virtual scribing.
4. Control over who’s in the exam room
While medical scribes first became widely used in ER settings, today they bring value to multiple practice locations. But there are times when a provider or patient may wish to not have a scribe in the room with them—physically or virtually. This can be especially true in settings like OB/GYN and urology practices, where sensitive medical situations are routinely discussed between providers and patients.
Providers who choose virtual scribing on the DeliverHealth platform get full control over who is with the room and who is not in the room. With the tap of a button, they can include or exclude a scribe to ensure confidentiality and enhance patient comfort and satisfaction. Providers can also choose whether to use video and audio, video-only, or audio-only, on the platform.
5. Increased accuracy
The quality of documentation you get from a virtual medical scribe comes down to the quality of the recording. The DeliverHealth platform includes a multiuser speech recognition voice module that allows the scribe, patient, provider to talk simultaneously without missing a single
spoken word. This technology makes it easy for the scribe to identify every distinct voice within a patient encounter, leading to more accurate documentation.
6. Faster turnaround times
The days of waiting for documentation 24 or 48 hours—or even longer—after a patient encounter should be in the rearview mirror for good. With synchronous medical scribing, documentation is instantaneous. With asynchronous medical scribing, documentation is complete within two to four hours after a patient encounter.
7. Greater focus on direct patient care
Several studies show that medical scribes allow providers to focus entirely on the patient and spend less time distracted by entering medical information into a computer. One study indicates that 57% of patients said physicians spent less time than usual on their computer during a scribe-assisted visit, and almost half of patients said their doctor spent more time speaking directly with them.
With virtual scribing, providers don’t have to spend any time entering data into their desktop or mobile device. They simply select a patient’s name on their schedule using the eSOne app, press record, and the scribe does the rest. That gives providers even more time to focus on what matters most—patient care.
8. Positive ROI
Seventy-nine percent of physicians in the JAMA Dermatology study said that the use of in-person scribes made them more willing to increase their patient volume. Further, the use of scribes increased practice revenue by 7.7% in one quarter. Now, imagine how many more patients your organization can see—or how much you can impact your margins—with virtual scribing.
Leverage virtual medical scribing benefits for your organization—and your patients
If you choose DeliverHealth for virtual scribing, you’ll stand to gain even more medical scribing benefits. We combine our best-in-class platform with the “human in the loop”—high-quality medical scribes who are trained to work directly in your EHR of choice.
Want to learn more? Reach out to our team at DeliverHealth today.