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Providers are often very unsatisfied with the amount of time they spend using EHRs, relative to the time they spend with patients. If providers spend most of the appointment time entering data into the computer, it makes the visit less personal which leads to dissatisfied patients. Doctors are sitting for hours each week in front of computer screens entering patient data into their electronic health record systems when they could be generating additional revenue by seeing more patients.

Technology has helped us stay productive and organized but it is also becoming a nuisance in the healthcare industry. Most providers in healthcare today struggle to complete the volume of EHR documentation on their plate. As such, many healthcare facilities are searching for alternative ways to complete this onerous task. Many are still resorting to expensive medical transcription services to get patient encounters documented and uploaded / scanned / copied and pasted into their EHRs. Medical scribe services in some cases make doctors’ lives easier but introducing another person in the exam room creates an awkward experience for all parties involved. Below are some of the obvious disadvantages of using medical transcription services and/or scribe services:

Patients Are Uncomfortable

Having a scribe in the room should free the doctor from EHR work so they can focus more on the patient. However, it is actually self-defeating because patients feel more uncomfortable with a stranger in the room with them. The scribe’s presence may inhibit sensitive patient-doctor discussions. A doctor patient relationship with open and comfortable discussions of personal and private issues is key to delivering the best outcomes for the patients. Of course virtual scribe services can in some cases help to avoid these awkward exam room scenarios however, cost and compliance issues remain.  A human being is still required behind the scenes in a virtual scribe workflow.  What happens when that person calls in sick or leaves for another job?

Confidentiality Risks

Even with a confidentiality agreement, whenever medical data leaves your facility you are still at risk of a confidentiality breach. It is important to ensure that scribe access to such EMRs is compliant with HIPAA security requirements. It is recommended that medical scribes receive HIPAA training upon hire, but this is not always the case. A breach of confidentiality could lead to civil actions. Healthcare facilities are at risk when hiring a scribe that may fail to protect personal information from misuse or unauthorized access.

Lack of Efficiency

Quality documentation is important not only for the physician and the medical practice- but the patient. It could take days, or maybe even weeks to receive reports back and quite often those the reports will need to be edited for inaccuracies. This prolongs the revenue cycle process and can result in lower quality of care. Alarmingly, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, scribes are not required to go through a certification process. Doctors are however required to review all of the information completed by a scribe. However, the biggest risk is if providers do not review the information entered by their scribes appropriately before signing off on patient documentation. Doctors will typically end up spending even more time if they are reviewing patient information with errors that need to be addressed.

Have you considered a mobile efficiency platform that integrates with your existing EHR system? Using a mobile device to input data and update patient charts allows doctors to focus more on the patient, and less on the computer. The portability of mobile EHR apps means that physicians can step away from the screen and communicate effectively with face-to-face time. With speech-to-text capabilities, patients can overhear the notes being added to their record. It gives physicians the opportunity to engage the patient in education by pulling up reference materials. It allows physicians to improve efficiency and productivity, create a better exam room experience for patients and reduce the time spent on documentation. Patients should feel comfortable enough to share sensitive and critical health information with their provider. Improved patient engagement and satisfaction is a big part of why mobile EHR apps are being widely implemented by healthcare practices. Try iScribe and learn how easy EHR data entry can be!

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Author:Pat Williams

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