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 Hello Rache 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, however, 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 a practice, it should come as no surprise that more and more doctors are turning to virtual 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 with 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 which 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, Hello Rache 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, have 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 Hello Rache 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 a medical scribe in order
To gain experience in the primary care field. Whilst they are, without question, dedicated to the cause, these sojourns as medical scribes are only ever temporary.
With the virtual scribes provided by Hello Rache, 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 (many, 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.
A Virtual Scribe is Clearly Superior
The benefits presented make it hard to argue against using virtual scribes over in-person medical scribes. Whilst an undeniable benefit of an in-person scribe is the level of engagement that face to face interaction brings, the advances in video technology allow Hello Rache to ensure this form of visual engagement is still present and comes with additional benefits.
First, and foremost, the biggest difference is cost and this is driven by Hello Rache’s decision to embrace virtual scribes from the Philippines. Extensively trained in data security and medical terminology, they provide an attractive alternative to college students looking for transitory roles which will help boost their résumés.
The vast pool of virtual scribes available at Hello Rache also provide a huge benefit over in-person scribes as there’s a greater potential to cover absenteeism with other scribes coming in to fill the gap. The presence of one of our many virtual scribes also allows in-house staff to concentrate on the running of the practice and, hopefully, deliver increased profits due to this efficiency.
And, finally, it’s not just the doctors themselves which benefit from the presence of a virtual scribe over an in-house one, the patients also benefit. Notwithstanding the fact that patients feel more confident with a digital, remote and out of sight presence in the exam room, virtual assistants are so effective with time management that this allows doctors to see even more patients.
All in all, virtual scribes offer a real opportunity to take the level of service offered by your practice to new levels, so you need to start integrating them into your business strategies today.