The adoption of virtual scribing services among healthcare organizations has increased since the surge of Covid-19. This is mostly because of the need to reduce the required paperwork, lessen physician burnout, and minimize the number of staff present during patient assessment.
As the demand for virtual scribing services increases, it has received much interest from healthcare providers as a solution.
Virtual scribing definition
Virtual scribing involves a doctor dictating their notes, procedures, and treatments to a virtual scribe, who then enters the data into a patient’s electronic medical record.
In this method, the medical expert speaks into a recording device: a microphone or mobile app. The virtual scribe then listens to the recording before entering the information into the patient’s medical file.
The medical expert will check the transcription for accuracy and make any required edits to ensure all important information is included.
Virtual scribing is often used in healthcare when medical staff can’t keep up with the demands of documenting patient care in real-time.
Healthcare companies can streamline their operations and give doctors more time to focus on patient care by outsourcing the transcribing process to virtual scribes.
Virtual scribing vs. Traditional scribing
The main difference between virtual scribing and traditional scribing is their location.
In traditional scribing, a scribe is physically present in the same location as the physician while taking notes. It is usually done in the exam room, and the scribe records the medical details as the physician discusses them. A scribe is often a skilled medical professional or trained personnel.
Virtual scribing, on the other hand, is when a remote medical scribe transcribes the medical information dictated by a physician. The communication between the virtual scribe and the physician takes place through a recording device, like a microphone or smartphone app.
Both virtual and traditional scribing seeks to increase the effectiveness and accuracy of patient care documentation.
However, virtual scribing has several advantages over traditional scribing, including greater flexibility, lower costs, and better patient care.
Advantages of outsourcing virtual scribing
Because of the rising demand for virtual scribing services, healthcare professionals are learning about its many advantages. From increased efficiency to improved patient care, virtual scribing is changing how medical professionals approach documentation.
Here are some of the benefits of outsourcing virtual scribing services:
Outsourcing virtual scribes has a lot of financial advantages, the most noticeable being the monthly wage bill reduction. Believe it or not, this is the pinnacle of effective financial management for any business.
In contrast to in-person scribes, who need a workspace, equipment, and amenities, virtual scribes have essentially no overhead costs. It can significantly impact the financial records each month.
These small sums quickly add up, allowing doctors to put more of their earnings toward improving their practice.
A real-time saver
While electronic health records (EHR) have revolutionized how doctors share data, it has also added a substantial amount of unnecessary labor that they find difficult to manage.
Physicians primarily employ scribes to reduce their workload. Outsourcing virtual scribing gives them the opportunity to focus on administration, publishing, and, more importantly, attending to more patients.
A virtual scribe has the added benefit of reducing the workload of in-house staff, which also creates an opportunity for them to focus on revenue-generation tasks.
Better doctor-patient relationship
Patients want to feel that their doctor is entirely focused on them and their concerns during their consultations. EHR documentation is a good innovation. But, a patient may quickly sense a lack of interest if a doctor is preoccupied with updating the system rather than paying attention to them.
In-house medical scribes can update the record and do note-taking, making it possible for doctors to focus on interacting with their patients.
However, the examination room is a private setting, and patients may feel uncomfortable if someone else is there.
A virtual scribe helps ease this worry as patients find them to be less intrusive. Virtual scribing helps to preserve the long-standing sense of privacy in the doctor’s office during a patient visit.
Improved patient experience
Virtual scribes are trained to record medical information accurately and securely. Thus, virtual medical scribing enables healthcare practitioners to make better choices regarding patient care.
Healthcare practitioners who do not have much work to do are less stressed and pressured. This allows them to concentrate more on providing high-quality patient care.
A better doctor-patient relationship improves patient experience, which is utmost in the medical field. When doctors can spend more time with their patients, patient engagement and satisfaction also increase.
Provides better coverage
Doctors may visit multiple locations in a single day, so the on-site scribe assigned to that doctor will need to travel with them. Apart from being a massive undertaking, there are also travel expenses to consider.
While this can be a significant disadvantage for scribes who work on-site, there is no such barrier for virtual scribes.
Virtual scribes can perform their job wherever the doctor works as long as they have access to the electronic health record and the internet.
Disadvantages of outsourcing virtual scribing
Just like many services available for outsourcing, virtual scribing also comes with risks. Keep in mind that it is also important to carefully consider the disadvantages.
By understanding the following downsides, healthcare providers can decide whether virtual scribing is the best option for them:
Lack of standardized training
Traditional scribes often have in-person training. Virtual scribes, however, may receive training online or through remote methods, which can lead to variations in the quality of training received.
The lack of standardized training can result in inconsistencies in the documentation quality and can negatively impact patient care.
Virtual scribes may also need more exposure to specific medical practices and procedures used by a healthcare provider. This can result in discrepancies in the documentation produced by different individuals.
To address these issues, healthcare providers need to choose an outsourcing company that offers comprehensive and standardized training to its virtual scribes.
Since virtual scribes are typically located remotely, they may not have the same level of security measures in place as the healthcare provider. As a result, it can increase the risk of unauthorized access to patient data.
The internet’s ability to transmit sensitive medical information also raises the possibility of data breaches. This might jeopardize patient confidentiality and have far-reaching legal and financial repercussions.
Mitigating these risks involves working with a virtual scribing outsourcing company that complies with HIPAA standards. The company also has to have strong security mechanisms in place to secure patient data.
Is outsourcing virtual scribing services worth it?
Whether outsourcing virtual scribing services is worth it depends on each healthcare provider’s individual needs and goals.
Virtual medical scribes have increasingly become popular for a reason. They offer many advantages, providing an innovative approach to patient care documentation.
It allows medical professionals to spend more time with their patients, leading to better patient engagement, improved patient satisfaction, and enhanced patient outcomes.
A virtual medical scribe, however, also has its share of challenges and drawbacks. Security threats are no joke, and healthcare providers might suffer huge financial losses if confidential patient data ends up in the wrong hands.
Ultimately, outsourcing virtual scribing services requires careful consideration of multiple factors. Healthcare providers must consider their own needs, goals, and resources when deciding whether virtual scribing is right for their company.