Assisting Physicians with

the Aid of a Virtual Scribe

Physician Burnout

Physicians today cite the administrative burden added to the work of patient care as the main reason for burnout. Chief among those administrative burdens was documenting in the electronic health record (EHR). A 2016 study found that physicians spent at least two hours doing computer work for every hour spent face-to-face with a patient, whatever the brand of medical software used.

In the examination room, physicians devoted half of their patient time facing the screen to do electronic tasks, and these tasks were spilling over after hours of labor. The University of Wisconsin found that the average workday for its family physicians had grown to eleven and a half hours. The result has been epidemic levels of burnout among clinicians.

Physicians struggle to focus fully on patients while simultaneously searching through and recording data within elaborate EHRs. Physicians tend to be among the most technology savvy people, yet they have come to despise their computers.

The Solution

By allowing trained medical scribes to perform administrative work, physicians are freed up, with more time to interact with their patients. After undergoing specific training, medical scribes simultaneously document encounter data for the physician. Scribes assist physicians not only by capturing data, but they are also able to pull up past records, lab tests, and diagnostic studies for physician’s review.

A pilot study, conducted by Nina Miller, MD, MPH, Isaac Howely, MD, MPH, and Maura J. McGuire, MD, and published in the August 2016 edition of Family Practice Management, determined that “working with a scribe can increase visits and raise patient satisfaction.” Many benefits resulted when working with a scribe as overall productivity increased by 12%, ultimately increasing patient satisfaction. After experiencing a doctor visit where a scribe was used, one patient remarked that it was, “…great, because I felt like I could ask questions. Before, I was afraid to interrupt because my doctor was so busy typing.”

  Time Baseline Scribe Pilot (10 Month Average) % Change
Productivity % notes scribed n/a 94.3% n/a
Visits per month 152.8 171.4 12.2%
Workflow Signed notes ≤ 2 days 87.2% 88.5% 1.5%
Signed labs ≤ 3 days 18.6% 42.0% 125.8%
Patient satisfaction 1 (low) – 5 (high) Timely care 3.2 3.9 21.9%
Communication 4.9 4.9 0.0%
Overall patient satisfaction 4.6 4.6 0.0%

Using medical scribes has been shown to decrease physician documentation time and physician burnout while increasing revenue, ultimately improving patient and physician satisfaction.

Our Virtual Scribe Services

Vee Healthtek’s scribes are located remotely, using Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant screensharing technology and a one-way microphone to listen to the encounter. Scribes document the appropriate Electronic Health Record (EHR) section, enter orders, locate labs or studies and order prescriptions in real-time. The physician uses a desktop to communicate with the scribe as documentation is entered in the native EHR. Once the encounter is complete, or at the end of the day, physicians review and sign notes. Our scribes are permanently paired 2:1 with physicians and are available on demand, developing familiarity and trust.

At the end of the day, our virtual scribes help physicians “do what they do best:” provide excellent care to patients.

Source Material:

Five Lessons for Working With a Scribe - https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2016/0700/p23.html#fpm20160700p23-t1


Meet the Author

Dr. Tony Kollarmalil - Medical Director

Dr. Tony Kollarmalil previously worked as Clinical Documentation Improvement Manager for New York Quality Care, the ACO of New York-Presbyterian, Columbia, and Weill Cornell Medical College, where he designed and implemented processes for accurate capture of risk and quality measures. Tony graduated with an MD from Rostov Medical University in Russia. His primary focus is on Physician education and engagement in areas of risk adjustment coding and documentation.