Over the last decade, the healthcare industry has been through a paradigm shift, going digital in every aspect possible. New apps and gadgets have been developed to monitor one’s blood sugar, pulse, blood pressure, or oxygen level in real-time. However, it’s not only the diagnosis or monitoring that has seen the technological shift, but also the medical note-making in the healthcare setting. Remote Medical Scribing is one of the results of such a shift.
Medical scribes, working remotely, listen to the doctor-patient interaction during a clinical visit, and make a comprehensive medical note, including all the relevant details and leaving out the unnecessary bits of a casual conversation.
The article discusses the rise of Remote Medical Scribing as an industry within the healthcare domain, showcasing the beneficial impact it has had on healthcare delivery. This article highlights how remote scribing enables doctors to increase their productivity and see more patients with improved healthcare offerings and streamlined Revenue Cycle Management (RCM).
Bottleneck using the technology – Where a medical scribe comes into picture
In 2009, the federal HITECH Act in the United States offered a provision for incentivizing healthcare providers to adopt the usage of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). These software tools and platforms were created to simplify patient record-keeping. However, physicians are usually are not fluent in working on technology-driven EMRs, which they require to access the patient’s data and process it.
It is tedious, time-taking, and cumbersome for a clinician to work on a computer while attending to the patient. It is why they need backend support to help them focus on what they do the best and deliver services they intend to.
Remote medical scribes – a better choice than in-person medical scribe
Remote medical scribes, working in a highly secure HIPAA-compliant office, prepare the medical note in real-time. With technology in place, clinicians receive a well-structured document without having to dictate the summary of the clinical visit. The healthcare provider can quickly review the note and approve all the orders, prescriptions, or referrals placed by the scribe.
Initially, when doctors began using an assistant as a medical scribe, they observed that many patients did not find it comfortable having a third person present in the clinical room. Hence, remote scribing was brought into existence on the pattern of remote transcription, with the difference being in real-time documentation.
The rise of the Medical Scribe Industry
Just over 10,000 medical scribes were working in the USA in 2013-2014. In 2016, The American College of Medical Scribe Specialists (ACMSS) highlighted the annual doubling of medical scribes with over 20,000 scribes enrolled into the industry that year.
The number has now swelled up to over 100,000, with about 15,000-20,000 scribes added every year. And the count considerably increases if one adds the number of remote medical scribes working from other countries of the world. Today, approximately, one-in-seven healthcare provider avails medical scribe services.
The Qualitative Impact
With the increasing use of remote scribing and growing awareness, patients have started trusting the process and are less concerned about the breach of privacy, a finding that was confirmed in a study done in 2018. The report indicated that nearly 80% of the participating patients trusted their healthcare provider and were not concerned with privacy issues. In fact, other studies are reporting increased patient satisfaction, having their doctor’s attention entirely to themselves.
Medical scribes have empowered physicians to enhance their work efficiency by noting down HPI and Assessment & Plan in a well-organized narrative. By the end of the visit, the only thing that doctor has to do is review and sign the orders using a click, and the entire discussion during the appointment is saved and updated in the EMR. And the prescriptions, lab orders, or referrals are sent to the concerned faculty. Medical scribes, offering real-time clinical documentation, help healthcare providers in combating burnout by eliminating their administrative burden post visits.
Remote Medical scribes allow clinicians to:
- Focus entirely on the patient, not on the computer
- Leave EMR data entry for their scribes
- Review detailed and updated patient’s medical information within minutes of the visit
- Gain quality time and have improved engagements with their patients
The Visible Impact
From seeing more patients to improved revenue, there are numerous financial and tangible benefits that remote medical scribes offer to the healthcare facility.
- Streamlining processes
Having been trained to listen and accurately chart, a medical scribe offers high-quality EMR charting that allows optimal coding and billing. The medical note is prepared in a manner that the insurance provider can easily comprehend and approve the claim, resulting in faster reimbursement and improved Revenue Cycle Management (RCM).
- Increased productivity with more patients
As a medical scribe completes the chart within a couple of minutes after the visit is complete, it significantly eliminates the forced reduction in patient load. Reduced workload allows the provider to see the patient in a relaxed state of mind, showcasing increased productivity.
A study in 2013 reported the positive impact of medical scribes on 4-cardiologists over 65-working hours. It found that the providers were able to see 81 more patients using scribe services. Other studies indicate that a physician can have increased patient visits per day by 20%-50% while offering extra care with the time saved on not needing to document in the EMR.
- Generating higher revenue
The retrospective study of 2013, in conclusion, highlighted the increased cardiovascular revenue of $1,348,437 by the physicians using scribes. Physicians with scribes also generated additional revenue of $24,257 by creating medical notes that were coded at a higher level. The total additional revenue generated was $1,372,694 at a cost of $98,588 for the scribes. Generally speaking, with 20% of increased patients’ visits, an individual provider can contribute an extra $125,000-$200,000 in annual revenue for its healthcare facility.
In the times of Covid-19
With medical scribes working remotely, the primary care facility has a few less people as a source or recipient of a potential infection. Reduced staff definitely helps a long way to help in mitigating transfer of Covid-19.
Remote Medical Scribe as a cost-effective solution
As the Medical Scribe Industry has grown over the years, vendors have streamlined their operations, improved their training processes, and stabilized the overall delivery of remote scribe services. As a result, they are able to provide continuous support to the physicians at reasonable costs.
- Value for Money
Economical pricing for remote scribing is based on a monthly rate for full-time providers as well as an hourly rate for those providers that must spend parts of their day performing procedures/surgeries. It allows physicians to pay only for how much they use the scribing service.
- Saving in-house Resources
With vendors providing all the training and tools to the remote scribe, the primary care facility saves its in-house team from tedious administrative duties, such as giving induction and information pertinent to the specific EMR. Additionally, with scribes working remotely, it reduces headcount, payroll, benefits, and the headache of managing employees in general.
ScribeEMR is a company based in Boston, MA, providing telemedicine, medical scribe, and virtual assistant services to healthcare providers across the country. ScribeEMR assigns one dedicated, expert medical scribe to solely work for a specific provider, delivering high-quality medical charts, matching their charting style. All the charts are completed & signed by the end of the day.
Our medical scribes are rigorously trained on 40+ EMR systems, covering every aspect of clinical documentation, including managing lab orders, diagnostics studies, prescriptions & referrals. ScribeEMR complies with all HIPAA rules. Personal portable electronic devices are prohibited inside the working area that has limited access to the Internet. All coordinators attend HIPAA training through our Learning Management System.