While advancements in technology and electronics have come as a boon to the mankind, there is always that jettisoning side to it, as if it was always meant to be so. When we claim smartphones and Internet to have connected us to the world and made it shrink, aren’t we also cantankerous about how it disconnected us from the people who we care and with whom we share the common roof. Likewise, even in the most advanced and expeditiously progressing healthcare services system these days many patients feel unwelcomed, and often feel that they are not listened or attended to their satisfaction. Mostly, patients observed that their physicians were more engaged with their computer screen than in them sitting just on the other side of the examination table.
There are instances when patients contemplated how just visiting their physician had made them feel relieved of their pains or concerns, and these days how much they miss that. Some might term it as an emotional placebo effect, but the fact of the matter is patients felt good visiting their physicians earlier. So, what has changed now?
While the transition of paper charts to electronic medical records documentation has made healthcare documentation more meaningful, somewhere it also contributed to the lack of personal connect between the physician and patient. There is no doubt that physician attended their patients ethically, but they were also equally focused on getting their EMRs updated and completed at the same time. As the face time between physician and patient dwindled, patients started registering their discontent and this also resulted in considerable erosion in patient-physician relationship.
As the need for EMR documentation spiraled, it proliferated physicians’ administrative responsibilities and further widened the patient-physician connect. On the other side, even physicians started getting overwhelmed with administrative work like charting. Over the last two decades more and more physicians have left practicing due to physician burnout. As per the Medscape National Physician Burnout Suicide Report 2020, 55% of physicians stated physician burnout was due to too many administrative tasks (charting and paperwork) and 33% of the physicians complained of spending too many hours at work.
It didn’t take long for the healthcare providers and administrators to acknowledge the need for medical scribes, and this resulted in medical scribes playing a vital role in addressing physician burnout.
Who is a Virtual Medical Scribe?
Virtual Medical Scribe is a physician assistant who is physically not present in the consultation room but specializes in capturing the patient-physician encounters in real time and creates charts in EHR. They also locate specific patient reports and diagnostic data to help the physician understand the medical history of patient and help in decision making and structure their treatment plan. Virtual Medical Scribes also place orders for medications and labs under the supervision of physicians. Patients find it more comfortable having a Virtual Medical Scribe than someone who is physically present in the room.
Are Physicians Happy Now?
Minus the burden of parallelly documenting each patient encounter, physicians who partner with Virtual Medical Scribes are finding themselves to be more productive and they are now more focused on their patient and treatment plan than being worried about pulling templates or typing out the reports in computer. Exceedingly higher number of physicians felt that engaging Medical Scribes has improved their lifestyle and have reported a better job satisfaction. Physicians are now reporting a better personal and professional life balance. They are getting back their pajama time that they used to spend on catching up with pending and EHR notes. Weekends and holidays used to be mostly exhausted on clearing their EHR backlogs. Physicians who have partnered with Virtual Medical Scribes are more productive and seeing more patient during their office hours than the ones who have not.
How do Patients Feel?
With physician-patient relation emerging stronger now, physicians are more focused on their patients and patients feel they are being cared and attended to more closely. Almost every survey has shown that physicians using virtual medical scribes are able to provide more face time to their patients which is more reassuring to them. With physicians having more time to converse with their patients, they have better insight and understanding of patient’s condition. This has further strengthened the bond between patient and physician which has thereby improved the quality of care that patient receive.
Is Virtual Medical Scribing Services Viable and Profitable in long run?
Yes, with more accurate high standards of documentation and improved productivity, physicians are attending more patients in a normal shift. Relative Value Units (RVUs) is how healthcare productivity is measured and it is also the way physician reimbursement is determined. Better RVUs are being reported by those who use Virtual Medical Scribes.
With more and more physicians and hospitals signing up for Virtual Medical Scribe program, this has opened an ocean of opportunities for medical students, healthcare personnel, and medical transcriptionists to explore new opportunities in this highly satisfying and rewarding career.