Virtual-Scribe-vs.-Physical-Scribe-–-All-You-Need-To-Know

Maintenance of proper medical records is crucial to providing the best possible continuum of care. No wonder, healthcare practices across the country are under an increased responsibility to make sure that patient records are updated properly after each visit. Unfortunately, this might result in a lot of extra paperwork, eating up much of a physician’s time. Paperwork doesn’t have to stand in the way of providing quality care, though. It is here that the medical scribe community comes to your rescue.

Medical scribes basically document every little detail related to the patient – from the medical history to the treatment ordered by the physician. These medical scribes are of two types – Virtual Medical Scribe and the Physical Medical Scribe.

What is a virtual medical scribe?

As the name implies, a virtual medical scribe provides documentation assistance, virtually. Meaning they don’t have to be physically present in the exam room to get the paperwork done for the physician. They work remotely and document physician-patient interactions, in real-time.

How does it work?

A virtual medical scribe is connected to the exam room remotely through a secure HIPAA-compliant VOIP connection. Once the physician enters the exam room, the scribe listens to the patient encounters, in real-time and takes detailed notes. After the patient visit is complete, the scribe may clarify doubts, if any, with the physician, and has the charts ready in minutes. At the end of the day, the physician and the scribe review the charts together, and the charts are closed on the same day.

What is a physical medical scribe?

Physical medical scribes are a kind of direct personal assistant to physicians. They accompany the physician during patient visits, take notes, and document each encounter from the start to the finish. However, they do not provide direct patient care but partner with the physician to ensure the best possible patient care.

How does it work? 

Physical medical scribes accompany the physician throughout their workday. They are there during every step of the patient encounter – right from the initial history taking and physical exams all the way to the diagnosis and treatment, and complete the documentation in real-time. Subsequently, the physician verifies the documentation for accuracy and approves it.

Below are some of the differences that a virtual medical scribe offers.

  • Virtual scribes cut costs.  They are used on-demand rather than on a regular basis. Moreover, they work remotely.  So, there is no need to pay for office space and equipment.
  • As virtual scribes work remotely, it minimizes the possibility of functional creep.
  • They are less intrusive, as they are not physically present in the exam room, allowing the patient to be more at ease with the physician.
  • Virtual scribes can offer documentation services anywhere, at any time. They are a great option for medical practices located in remote and rural areas.
  • A virtual scribe costs only half the price of a physical scribe.

On the other hand, the physical scribe is quite different from the virtual scribe and the reasons being

  • Physical scribes allow for real-time documentation and 100% completion of charts the same day.
  • As they are physically present in the exam room, they can make any changes as the physician requests, without any delays.
  • Physical medical scribes function as a part of the healthcare team and develop a strong personal connection with the physician they are assisting. This helps them to learn a lot while working.

Medical scribes – whether helping with documentation tasks virtually or in-house, provide invaluable services to the physicians and medical practices. Hiring a medical scribe – be it a virtual scribe or physical scribe, improves efficiency, revenue, patient-physician interaction, and, most importantly, physician job satisfaction. With medical scribes to take care of the administrative and documentation tasks, physicians can focus solely on what they love to do – patient care.

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