The Story of being "Virtual" in Medical Scribing and Potential Career in it
Behind the Origins of Virtual Medical Scribing
In 2009, the federal HITECH Act in the United States paved the way for using Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) on a mass scale in hospitals and clinics. The government started giving healthcare providers incentives to adopt EMRs. It was the beginning of the paradigm shift that was about to come. The unprecedented shuffle in the healthcare industry in the USA was seen a year later in the form of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, which allowed people to get better, comprehensive insurance coverages.
Approximately 10.2 million people had signed up for Obamacare by June 2015, clearly indicating the increased access to healthcare. It was declared as “Mission Accomplished,” but partially. For hospitals and providers, it meant that they had to incorporate more patients into their system on a daily basis. And the approval of insurance claims needed proper clinical documentation and correct medical coding and billing. The surge in the number of people getting insurance coverage steered healthcare into the world of digitization. The initial purpose of encouraging the use of EMRs, which was to simplify patient record-keeping, extended to streamlining the insurance processes.
As insurance claims were about to increase multifold, more efficient and concise note-making was required and that too on the computer in the EMR. In short, a medical scribe was required that could write a well-detailed, succinct medical note in real-time. However, the presence of a third person (scribe) in the clinical room did not appeal to the doctors and patients alike. And this gave birth to the virtual medical scribing, aka remote medical scribing industry that could prepare scribes in the medical field to work with doctors remotely and perform medical documentation in real-time. Virtual scribe companies began to offer premium, expert remote medical scribe services at cheap rates. And virtual medical scribing soon began to boom in the healthcare industry as the service helped providers see more patients without experiencing burnout and having to bear the extra clerical workload.
So, what exactly is Virtual Medical Scribing?
Virtual medical scribing requires a professional (the virtual medical scribe) to connect with a healthcare provider via a telemedicine application and document the physician-patient interaction simultaneously while the provider is offering care to the patient.
Virtual medical scribing involves:
- Listening to the patient’s description of the history of the illness and current symptoms,
- Understanding the assessment of the patient’s condition made by the doctor,
- Making note of the Physical Exam findings and treatment plan suggested by the doctor, and
- Preparing a comprehensive yet concise medical charts that are easy to understand by any medical professional and insurance provider alike
The primary objectives of virtual medical scribing are to:
- Draft medical charts that will help patients get faster insurance approval, thus streamlining reimbursements for healthcare facilities and optimizing their revenue cycle.
- Improve physicians’ productivity, streamline care practice workflow, and eliminate clinical burnout
- Enhance patients’ experience by allowing the provider to have enhanced engagement with the patient
- Enhance provider wellbeing and job satisfaction by letting him leave the facility on time, allowing him to spend quality time with his family and close ones
Since virtual medical scribing brings enhanced efficiency to the clinician’s workflow, allowing him to see more patients in a day with relative ease, it is a decent-paid job. With little experience in hand, a virtual medical scribe can earn almost double the salary of a well-experienced medical transcriptionist. Furthermore, the job is immensely satisfying as the scribe directly contributes to improving healthcare delivery and patient welfare, providing a sense of purpose to the professional. But is it possible for you to become a virtual medical scribe? The answer lies in understanding the pre-requisites you need to become one. You can acquire many of the skills through industry-integrated training provided by virtual scribe companies or at an independent or affiliated institute offering medical scribe training.
- Educational background: You have got a better chance of becoming a virtual medical scribe if you have earned a diploma or graduate degree in Medicine, Pharmacy, or Biotechnology, as it will help you understand the medical jargons a doctor uses during his conversation with the patient. Also, it will help you understand Physical Exam (PE) findings as the education in Medicine, Pharmacy, and Biotechnology helps you get well versed with medications and human physiology and anatomy.
- Listening and comprehension skills: Since a virtual medical scribe is required to connect with the doctor via a telemedicine application, you might not always have clear audio quality to listen. Also, you cannot frequently interrupt the ongoing clinical visit to ask doubts to the doctor regarding his recommendations. Hence, you are required to nurture listening skills to understand what is being talked. Your listening and comprehension skills will help you frame concise medical notes, leaving out the irrelevant information.
- Typing skills and Ear-hand coordination: To become a remote medical scribe, you would need to develop a typing speed of at least 50-55 words per minute as a beginner. As you gain experience, you should be able to write more than 70 words in a minute. But before that, you must enhance your cognitive ability and ear-hand coordination to type the relevant information as soon as you have heard it. You can fair the notes later but you should be able to make short notes of what you have listened to immediately.
- Computer skills: Virtual medical scribing involves writing clinical charts for a doctor sitting offshore in front of a computer. Here, the computer is a keyword. You will connect with doctors over a live video or audio call via a telemedicine app. Furthermore, you will have to work on a computer application, such as MS Word, WordPad, or Notepad, to prepare a draft. And not to forget the Electronic Medical Record (EMR), which is the primary tool from where you’d be obtaining information about the patient and to where you’d be saving the medical chart. Hence, you will have to juggle between different apps as you work on entering medical data. In this scenario, advanced typing, data entry skills, and general keyboard shortcuts often come in handy.
ScribeEMR provides real-time, remote, HIPAA-compliant EMR charting, medical coding, and ancillary support that improves practice efficiency, maximizes revenue, and reduces physician burnout. Extensively trained, remote medical scribes log in to document patient visits in real time, with quick turnaround and exceptional chart quality. Dedicated, certified medical coders assign the right codes to each diagnosis and treatment to reduce errors and optimize medical billing and reimbursement. Additional services include referral coordination, insurance eligibility verification, preauthorization management, and additional administrative, clerical, and customer support provided by trained virtual assistants. For more information visit www.scribeemr.com.