The widespread adoption of EHRs since 2009, driven by federal policies, has had both positive and negative effects on physicians. While EHRs were meant to streamline healthcare documentation, physicians now spend an average of 16 minutes per patient encounter solely on EHR tasks. This increased administrative burden has been a significant contributor to physician burnout. Recognizing this challenge, the demand for scribe services has emerged. These “physician saviors” take on the responsibility of data entry and administrative tasks related to charting, freeing up physicians’ time to focus solely on providing patient-centered care.
How Medical Scribes Can Help
Dr. Sidney Lipman, an ENT physician in private practice, refers to scribes as “data management specialists” who assume responsibility for handling all the data within the EHR system. Scribes assist physicians in navigating EHRs, retrieving information, responding to messages, and conducting necessary research. The presence of scribes can significantly expedite the process of locating information while reducing costs. By incorporating scribes into their practice, physicians can prioritize patient care over EHR- related tasks.
Scribes Improve Revenue, Patient Interactions, and Work-Life Balance
Dr. Afser Shariff, CEO & Chief Medical Officer of Physicians Angels, a provider of virtual scribe services, has witnessed significant financial benefits by incorporating a virtual scribe into his practice. He estimates a yearly profit increase of approximately $50,000. Similarly, Dr. Sidney Lipman, an ENT physician in a private practice, experienced a 32% rise in income within a few months of implementing a scribe program. However, the benefits extend beyond financial growth. According to Cheryl Toth, a Consultant & Speaker at KarenZupko & Associates, physicians reported improved work-life balance. With virtual scribes handling documentation tasks, physicians were able to leave earlier, knowing that all charts would be complete and ready for sign-off. Dr. Afser Shariff also highlights that when explaining details to the scribe for input in the EHR, patients gain a better understanding of the information. This increased interaction leads to a richer exchange of information.
Types of scribe implementation programs available for physicians
• In the first option, a physical scribe accompanies the physician throughout the day, inputting data into the EHRs.
• The second option involves a virtual scribe who works remotely from an offsite location, connected to the physician through a secure VoIP connection.
• The third option is a hybrid model that combines both off-site and in-office scribes.
The primary disadvantage of the first option is that having a physical scribe present in the exam room may make patients uncomfortable, and it can also interrupt the physician’s thoughts while sharing the computer. However, with the virtual scribe and hybrid model, the scribe and physician are connected through a secure internet connection. They listen to the conversation and enter relevant details into the EHRs. The physician can access their computer at their convenience, provide additional information to be charted, review the patient’s charts together, and sign off, ensuring that the charts are complete.
Having an offsite scribe also has its advantages. Scribes typically work with multiple physicians, so if one scribe is unavailable, backup scribes can step in to support the physician. On-site scribes, on the other hand, quickly become familiar with the system and can adapt to the workflow. Additionally, medical assistants and nurses can be cross-trained to perform scribing duties, ensuring uninterrupted scribe service.
The choice of scribe model largely depends on the physician’s specific scribing needs and future plans. Dr. Afsar Sharif emphasizes that incorporating scribes to reduce EHR-related tasks allows for more time with patients and a better work-life balance.
Overcoming EHR Challenges with Medical Scribes
Electronic health records (EHRs) have been shown to have both positive and negative effects on physician-patient communication. Let’s see what studies have to say.
- Some studies have found that EHRs can interfere with communication, as physicians spend more time looking at the computer screen and less time interacting with patients. For example, a 2014 study found that physicians spent an average of 25% less time interacting with patients after EHR implementation.
- However, other studies have found that EHRs can actually improve communication, as they can help physicians to provide more accurate and complete information to patients. For example, a 2013 study found that patients were more likely to ask questions and receive information from their physicians after EHR implementation.
- After the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR), there was an initial decline in productivity and revenue. However, over a span of 12 months, productivity, volume, and revenue gradually reached the levels seen prior to implementation.
- Similarly, a study conducted in 2010 in a large multi-specialty physician group revealed that the adoption of EHR had a positive impact on productivity to some extent. As physicians gained experience in utilizing the EHR system, there was a noticeable improvement in productivity.
The impact of EHRs on physician-patient communication may vary depending on the specialty. For example, one study found that EHRs improved efficiency for internal medicine practitioners, while making it time-consuming for pediatricians and those practicing family medicine. Overall, the evidence on the impact of EHRs on physician-patient communication is mixed. More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of EHRs on communication and other aspects of patient care.
The use of scribes can effectively reduce clinical documentation burden and improve efficiency. Increased productivity leads to higher revenue generation. Are you a physician looking to reduce your administrative workload and improve clinical efficiency and revenue? Well, you can benefit from partnering with Scribe service provider, a trusted provider of low-cost, high-quality scribing solutions. Scribe service offers offers both real-time and offline scribing services.
To learn more about their services, visit www.scribe4me.com and fill out the contact form and their professional scribe representative will reach out to you.