Virtual Scribes Helping More Doctors Manage Well Their EMRs: Modern Healthcare Magazine


Virtual Scribes Helping More Doctors Manage Well Their EMRs: Modern Healthcare Magazine

This in-depth article, published September 02, 2014 in Modern Healthcare, profiles Physicians Angels and other scribe companies work in helping providers. A highlight of it is here:

Physicians say they like to use scribes to handle EHR data entry because doctors find EHRs slow and clunky to use, interfering with their interactions with patients. Those complaints have hardly lessened in the several years since EHRs have come into broad use. A June customer survey report by health IT market researcher KLAS Enterprises on EHR usability found that customer ratings of usability for nine leading EHR systems on six common EHR tasks ranged from 55% to 85%. For one thing, many doctors are slow typists.

I hunt and peck, says Dr. Michael Merry, an internist/pediatrician with FHN, a group practice based in Freeport, Ill., and chairman of its physicians EHR committee. After FHN adopted an EHR last summer, his productivity dropped to 20 to 24 patients a day with the EHR, from 25 to 30 with paper records. He started using a scribe in January and says he nearly returned to his pre-EHR productivity rate. Merry uses Physicians Angels, a Toledo, Ohio-based company that connects physicians with virtual scribes remotely located either in India or other parts of the U.S. using Voice over Internet Protocol.

Virtual Scribes help you to securely manage patient data in your EMR in real-time. Our Virtual Scribes service was created by doctors, for doctors, and designed to save healthcare providers time and earn more money. Physicians Angels specializes our virtual scribes into ENT, Orthopedics, Urgent Care, Internal Medicine, Plastic Surgery, and other specialties. ENT is our largest specialty, and we have the largest ENT scribe pool in the world. Medical practices with multiple locations can move scribes from one site to another based on work demands during the day without loss of time due to scribe travel. If one scribe is sick or on leave, we have a large pool of scribes to jump in and take over. Compared to many groups with in-house or onsite scribes, when an onsite scribe is sick or leaves, the down time before a replacement is trained can take 3 to 6 months. We have many groups that have transitioned from in-house scribes to our virtual scribe service, as a result of the benefits of using our virtual scribe model. Additionally, we can shift scribes from one facility to another to manage fluctuating work flows. Large healthcare systems can rapidly shift workforce allocations from outpatient facilities and even support inpatient care documentation facilitating doctors and nurses to care for patients.

What is required for virtual scribes in terms of technology? A strong broadband connection, good internal IT infrastructure, and people willing to commit the time to refine their unique relationship with their virtual scribe team to reach optimal efficiency. At the end of the day we provide a well-trained virtual scribe who is willing to work hard to make things work. It will take some time, as it would take any new person joining an organization. The good get better; the better get exceptional. Our experience has been that practices with good processes and productive doctors seeking better productivity do extremely well with virtual scribes. By developing employees dedicated to a career path as scribes, hospitals and practices receive consistency without the turnover associated with temporary onsite scribes. At Physicians Angels, we had to build semester-long training programs for each specialty, creating a pool of employees that can quickly learn a new doctors style. We have an ongoing lifelong education and mentoring program for our scribes that is unique in the industry. When hospitals/practices try to replicate our process (none have been successful, to our knowledge), they realize how expensive and time intensive it is to build and maintain a small let alone large pool of scribes. We encourage doctors to share their lecture sets or internal training programs with us so that we can customize their scribe service even more tightly to their work flow.

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