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  • Writer's pictureMedVA

How Virtual Scribes Improve Doctors’ Relationship With Electronic Health Records

The healthcare industry relies on comprehensive medical documentation to keep patients safe, provide excellent care, treat ongoing conditions with efficiency, and reduce medical errors. To do that, each patient’s electronic health record needs to be updated each time the patient sees a doctor, undergoes a procedure, or experiences a change in medical history.

The simple act of updating patient EHRs can take up hours of a physician’s time each day — time that most physicians simply do not have to spare. The process is generally regarded as cumbersome, time-consuming, and frustrating for physicians, who would instead be spending their valuable time working with patients.

While using EHRs is unavoidable in today’s healthcare industry, doing the irritating work of taking notes and updating records is not. When physicians hand off EHR duties to a virtual scribe, they enjoy several benefits.

Doctors have a love-hate relationship with EMRs

A Stanford Medicine poll found that while doctors in general see the benefit of EHRs, they also have complaints about them.

  • 40% of primary care physicians say that there are more challenges than benefits with EHRs.

  • 62% of time devoted to each patient is spent updating the patient’s EHR instead of face-to-face with the patient.

  • 71% of physicians say that EHRs contribute to physician burnout.

  • 72% of physicians have issues with their EHR interface.

A recent study found that, on average, a physician spends 16 minutes per visit to update a patient’s EHR. After an eight or 10-hour shift seeing numerous patients, physicians are forced to make a tough choice: catch up on updating EHRs at the end of a long day or put it off until later when some free time opens up.

There is a third option: Hiring a virtual scribe

A virtual scribe is a remote employee that listens in on patient visits via secure software on the physician’s laptop, taking notes in real-time.

To work with a virtual scribe, the physician will call the scribe via their usual laptop before the first office visit of the day. The scribe is virtually present during the exam, inputting documentation directly into the patient’s EHR while the doctor and patient interact. At the end of the visit, if any information is missing, the virtual scribe can ask the doctor to provide it before the visit is completed. Each patient visit ends with an updated EMR and playing “catch-up” at the end of the day for the physician.

Working with a virtual scribe offers several benefits

When freed up from the daily task of updating EHRs, not only does a physician’s relationship with EHRs change from one of annoyance to appreciation but there are several other benefits, as well.

Improved job satisfaction

Physicians get into healthcare because they want to help people, not spend hours doing online “paperwork.”

Working with a virtual scribe eliminates or greatly reduces the need for a physician to spend his or her valuable time transcribing notes and entering information into patients’ electronic health records. Simply offloading this task to a virtual scribe can greatly reduce the physician’s stress and improve their job satisfaction.

More time and energy to focus on patients

With the arduous task of updating patient EHRs off their plates, physicians have more time, energy, and focus to dedicate to their patients. This results in a higher level of care for the patient, as well as a doctor who is in better spirits during office visits – a double dose of improvement for the patient experience.

More revenue for the practice

The more hours a physician can dedicate to seeing patients, the more revenue the practice can bring in. With a virtual scribe handling updating EHRs and taking notes during appointments, doctors are open to seeing more patients if they so choose and deliver more revenue into the practice.

Documentation backlog disappears

It’s common for physicians to have a backlog of notes to be transcribed and entered into patient EHRs simply because there isn’t enough time or energy left at the end of a long day to complete these tasks. Not only can this lead to medical errors because of missing documentation, but it also puts additional stress on the physicians who have the monstrous task of catching up looming over their heads.

Bringing on a virtual scribe to handle the backlog and get all patient EHRs updated can be a tremendous stress reliever for physicians.

Better documentation without physician headaches

A patient office visit includes talking to the patient and listening intently to their responses and symptoms, all while mulling over the appropriate treatment. And then of course the mental clock is ticking, trying to get all the information needed before the next appointment. With all these things happening at once, it can be difficult to focus on taking comprehensive notes, too.

A virtual scribe is dedicated to one task only during a patient appointment: taking notes. A non-distracted, fully-focused virtual scribe can take copious, clear notes during a patient appointment so that no important details are missed. Also, taking notes and updating the patient’s EMR during the appointment eliminates the problem of transcribing quickly scribbled notes into complete medical documentation later and missing something in translation.

Better interactions with patients during appointments

Positive doctor-patient interactions occur when both parties feel comfortable and have the full attention of the other. If the physician is “head down” in a computer for most of the visit rather than making eye contact with the patient, the patient may feel as if they do not have the full attention of their provider. Although doctors are well capable of listening and taking notes at the same time, it may not seem so to the patient. A virtual scribe taking notes during visits helps the patient feel that they have their doctor’s full attention and be more satisfied with the visit.

Want to know more about how a virtual scribe could transform your physician’s relationship with EHRs?

MedVa helps healthcare providers all over the country enjoy the ease and convenience of virtual scribes. Schedule your call with us today by clicking the button at the top of this page.

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