Physician Burnout - Can a Virtual Medical Scribe Heal the Healers

Physician Burnout - Can a Virtual Medical Scribe Heal the Healers

Jun 06,2022

Physician Burnout - Can a Virtual Medical Scribe Heal the Healers

Charting and paperwork on account of the widespread adoption of EHRs is the number one contributor to physician burnout, a Medscape study says. EHRs hurt physician-patient relationships that are crucial in health care. Physicians feel that patient visits have turned out to be more impersonal with physicians focused at entering data into the EHRs. Moreover, the cumbersome nature of the EHRs forced physicians to spend after work hours to complete their charts. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine says that physicians spend nearly 2 hours or even more outside of work hours to catch up on their daily charting requirements. This took a toll on their work-life balance. It is at this point physicians started to look for solutions to delegate their EHR documentation responsibilities. A virtual medical scribe is a viable option who can assume many of the clerical tasks that customarily burden physicians, allowing them to save time and increase efficiency.

Research studies on the link between excessive documentation and physician burnout

Physicians are currently forced to spend unreasonably excessive amounts of time documenting their patient visits. A cross-sectional, observational study conducted in clinics of 10 family medicine residency programs observed that primary care physicians spent more time doing EHR documentation tasks than interacting with their patients. Year after year, Medscape surveys have been citing too much paperwork, such as charting and other administrative tasks as the number one contributor to physician burnout. Yet another research says that the clerical strain induced by EHRs is the number one cause of physician burnout. Opting for a virtual medical scribe who can help physicians document clinical information in real-time is a promising strategy that would allow physicians to spend more face time with patients and less time interacting with computers. Well, when a judge is not required to make a record of courtroom proceedings, a physician should also not spend an inordinate amount of time documenting their patient visits.

Studies supporting the use of virtual medical scribes in lowering physician burnout

A new study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente says that the use of virtual medical scribes can considerably reduce physician documentation burden while improving clinical efficiency, workflow, and physician-patient interactions. Another study conducted by the AMA suggests that the use of medical scribes is an effective strategy to alleviate the growing documentation burden among primary care physicians

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine says that the use of medical scribes can reduce the burden associated with time-consuming EHR documentation tasks, and improve productivity, patient interactions and job satisfaction among physicians.

A study published in JAMIA Open says that medical scribes improve provider job satisfaction and reduce burnout because they reduce documentation burden.

How a virtual medical scribe can alleviate physician burnout?

Administrative burden and lack of time with patients are the things that physicians cite as barriers to their happiness at work. Hiring a virtual medical scribe allows physicians to spend more time with their patients as the virtual scribe takes care of the EHR and clinical charting, in real-time. Let us see how a virtual medical scribe can alleviate physician burnout.

  • Frees physicians from the repetitive, time-consuming EHR data-entry tasks, which gives them more time to spend than usual with patients, considerably lowering the chances of burnout.
  • Use of scribes reduced patient wait times by 13 minutes per patient, which goes a long way in optimizing patient satisfaction. Happy patients equal happy physicians. All this simply means that physicians are less susceptible to experiencing burnout.
  • A physician can schedule 20% more patient visits in a day, without putting in extra hours. RVUs increases from anywhere between 15% to as much as 50%. This is made possible by the time saved per patient and EHR documentation support from the scribe. Seeing more patients and optimizing the revenue cycle can help reduce much of the stress that contributes to burnout.
  • With a virtual medical scribe completing documentation in real-time there is no need to stay after work to complete charts or take work home at night or on weekends. Less after-hours work on EHRs is linked with less physician burnout as per a study published in Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Even before the onset of the pandemic physicians were going through burnout for more than a couple of decades. However, the Covid-19 outbreak exasperated rates so much so that many physicians particularly primary care physicians started to rethink their careers. A virtual medical scribe can provide the administrative support and the help physicians need to get through the challenges. With virtual medical scribes taking over the administrative burden of data entry helps physicians spend some quality face time with patients. More time speaking with patients results in better patient as well as physician satisfaction. All these things can get physicians past burnout, get physicians to enjoy the work-life balance, and get physicians to enjoy practicing medicine

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