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The Ultimate Guide To Virtual Medical Scribes

what is the value of virtual medical scribes?

Table of Contents

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Introduction to virtual medical scribes

Just ten short years ago medical scribes were found in the halls of emergency rooms but were practically unknown to the general public and not feasible for the rest of healthcare. The virtual aspect to medical scribing has only recently become accessible thanks to technology, increase in documentation mandates, and even a global pandemic.

Now in 2022, what is the value of virtual medical scribes? Which specialties thrive with the use of medical scribes? And what does the future look like thanks to evolving healthcare technology? We’ll explore these topics and more in The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Medical Scribes.

What is a virtual medical scribe?

Virtual medical scribes are designed for optimal documentation and workflow productivity. Their job is to compose a note for the electronic health record (EHR) based on the patient’s visit.

But scribes are more than simple data entry. They are an integral part of the healthcare team, vital to physician productivity and preventing physician burnout. Their unique skill set allows for more accurate and thorough notes, increased patient volume, improved patient interactions, and more.

 

Medical Scribes Versus Medical Transcriptionist

The difference between transcriptionists and scribes is a matter of one voice versus two voices. Transcriptionists only document verbatim what they’re told by the physician, a single voice recording. They are not listening to the actual in-room patient encounter for their documentation. 

 

A medical scribe is composing a note from beginning to end based on the conversation between the patient and doctor, a two voice recording. Scribes are trained in both medical terminology and the physician’s preferences for language and note formatting. They allow the provider to be a reviewer of the note rather than the composer, saving them significant time. 

Desired Medical Scribe Skills

Medical scribes are really a jack of all trades. The skills below are required for a truly productive scribe. 

Technology Skills Medical Skills Other Skills
Knowledge of clinic’s EHR system for note input
Medical terminology (everything from medication to procedures)
Superior listener
Able to type 55+ WPM
Understanding of human anatomy
Ability to adapt to provider preference changes quickly
Specialty specific medical terminology (example: orthopedics)
Communication (for back and forth with the provider and clinic)

Synchronous Versus Asynchronous

A few other relatively new terms to the scribing world is synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous means the scribe is listening and documenting live alongside the provider. This is achieved through video applications, like Zoom, and is now more widely available thanks to technology advancements in recent years. Asynchronous means the provider records the in-room patient encounter and then sends the audio to their scribe. Asynchronous methods offer STAT note options that typically promise turnaround times of less than 4 hours. 

 

Both options include note taking and data entry within the electronic health record and require final note sign-off by the provider.

How virtual scribes can impact your practice

We’ve already mentioned that scribes can improve patient interactions and help prevent physician burnout, but how? 

Restores The Patient-Doctor Relationship

Medical scribes allow the provider to practice medicine without having to focus on note-taking or box-clicking. The physician is able to remove the computer between themselves and the patient. By restoring the patient-doctor relationship, patient care and provider satisfaction are simulateousnly improved. 

 

Saves The Physician Hours Per Day

Medical scribes save providers hours per day. We recently did a case study on those metrics. Instead of staying at the office to finish notes or leaving the office with late documentation hanging overhead, physicians are able to leave when clinic visits are over. This time can be spent seeing more patients (increasing ROI) or doing activities outside of the clinic (again helping to prevent physician burnout).

Improves Documentation: Quality and Turnaround Time

When documentation is written with shorter turnaround times, either by live or recorded encounters, the accuracy is improved. Doctors are no longer operating from memory. In addition, scribes can make notes as thorough as necessary based on the in-room conversation. Whereas time or memory constraints might prevent a physician from writing a detailed note. 

 

Outsourced medical scribe companies also include at least one quality assurance step. By having more than one set of eyes on a note, the accuracy of charts are dramatically improved.

Which Specialties Benefit From Medical Scribes?

Medical scribes are no longer just for emergency rooms. However, there are some specialties that will find more value than others. The six specialties below will find the most value in time savings, ROI, and productivity. These specialties are usually high volume with lengthy SOAP notes.

  • Orthopedics

  • Urology

  • Cardiology

  • ENT

  • General Surgery

  • Gastroenterology

 

How the pandemic changed clinic staffing

Like most industries, healthcare was forced to reduce the number of necessary employees in the office. This meant that a lot of providers lost their in-room scribes or medical assistants who were helping with documentation. In turned, many medical practices were forced to trial telemedicine and remote documentation solutions. 

Realizing the benefits of remote solutions, many of these tools and workflows are here to stay.

👉 Click here read more about how the pandemic change clinic staffing

Don’t have time to read? Download this page as a PDF!

Virtual scribes and technology

Remote scribes is the middle stage solution for documentation technology. Long gone are the days of dictaphones and being tethered to the computer. But we’re not quite ready for complete AI solutions either. In fact, we like to think of virtual scribes as the self-driving car of the healthcare industry. 

iScribeHealth is on the cutting edge of healthcare documentation technology, giving providers the widest array of technology options. Providers can complete documentation by way of an asynchronous workflow with the use of a computer, by using just their cellphone, or a combination of their iPhone and Apple watch. 

Virtual medical scribes FAQ's

  • Do providers have to change their workflow?
    No, iScribe adapts to your current workflow. However, we do look for opportunities to give best practices and suggestions for improved productivity. 

  • Are your Virtual Scribes US-based?
    Yes. Our scribes are US-based and native English speakers. However, we can also provide coverage for practices who need bilingual scribes services.

  • What technology does a provider need for iScribe’s Virtual Scribe Services?
    Any Apple device will allow you to record encounters. If you’re not a current iPhone owner you can use an iPod as an affordable and discreet option. Apple watch users have the added benefit of controlling in-room recordings directly from their watch, with minimal touches or exam disruptions.

Still have questions? We'd love to hear from you!

Take Back Your Time with Virtual Scribe Services

Our team is ready to answer your questions and talk about the specific impact our virtual scribes could have on your practice. 

Whether you’re looking to improve your documentation quality, increase your ROI and patient volume, or simply want to stop spending time on documentation, we have a solution for you. 

With iScribe, you don’t have to worry about changing or learning a new workflow. We meet you where you are. 

Together, we can get back to making medicine about care, not clicks. 

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