It is an undeniable fact that the pandemic has transformed care delivery, through virtual health services. Virtual care was just taking off over the past few years, but the pandemic made it an absolute necessity. This abrupt shift to virtual care brought about by COVID-19 also resulted in a significant change in medical scribe workflow, paving the way for implementation of remote scribing for virtual care. Today, EHR documentation tasks can be handled remotely by virtual medical scribes allowing physicians to focus on what they are specialized to do - caring for patients.
Medical scribing during COVID-19
Medical scribes have been around for years, from working with paper records to assisting with data entry tasks electronically, now. They have indeed become an integral part of the healthcare team providing help with the documentation process. Medical documentation became increasingly challenging for physicians during COVID-19. There was a mounting backlog of unsigned charts and using an in-person scribe in the exam room was not a popular or hygienic option while the pandemic was peaking. Hence, many hospitals started using remote scribing services. A study reports that use of medical scribes significantly reduced time spent on documentation and improved efficiency. This enhanced clinical efficiency was the same during and after the pandemic for both in-person and virtual care visits. Scribes not only reduced documentation burden but also greatly improved provider satisfaction and well-being.
The impact of COVID-19 on scribing
Following the initial shock from the COVID-19 pandemic physicians hoped to return to "normal" quickly. Life after COVID-19 and lockdown restarted, but things weren't normal as expected. Hospitals were under pressure to focus on additional infection prevention strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. As a result, the role of in-person scribes changed drastically. In an effort to reduce the chances of being infected or spreading COVID -19, many hospitals have refrained from using in-person scribes in the exam rooms. Moreover, some scribes were reluctant to come in due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure. This ultimately paved the way for a substantial decline in the prevalence of in-person scribes.
Transition to virtual scribes during COVID-19 and beyond
Before the onset of COVID-19, most medical scribes typically worked in an exam room within a hospital setting. They were seen sitting in the corner of the exam room, listening to and documenting the conversation between the patient and the physician. But as in-patient visits dropped significantly during COVID-19 most of the medical scribes were either laid off or furloughed. With COVID-19 workflow changes virtual care usage surged as physicians and patients looked for ways to safely access and deliver care. Virtual scribes started to gain traction and today they are increasingly used and are equally effective as in-person scribes. A study reports that the role of the scribe has drastically changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and predicts that the "scribe industry will evolve, with virtual options becoming standard". Another study reported that 82% firmly believed that scribes were equally useful for in-person and telemedicine appointments.
Virtual scribes provide documentation support anytime, anywhere
It has become common for physicians in the US to work in multiple facilities due to the increased consolidation of health systems brought about by the pandemic. This is another instance where virtual scribes have an edge over in-person scribes. As physicians travel from place to another, and their stay in a place is for a short time, it is not feasible to use in-person scribes. However, virtual medical scribes can remotely document physician-patient encounters provided they are connected to the internet. And, unlike an in-person scribe who may call in sick, take personal time off or go on a vacation, most virtual scribe services have backup scribes always in place to provide uninterrupted service.
The last few years have been very tough and have caused increasing challenges for healthcare professionals globally. However, when it comes to providing documentation assistance for physicians, there are newer and better resources available at their disposal. Virtual medical scribes are one such one. COVID-19 would have rendered the in-person scribe service ineffective but thanks to the virtual medical scribes for holding the future of documentation in place. Well, if you are considering virtual medical scribes get in touch with the industry experts - Scribe4Me. They have a pool of certified and highly-experienced scribes to match your specialty and provide exceptional quality notes. To learn more visit www.scribe4me.com.
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Documentation is an important daily clinical responsibility. In order to optimize patient care, physicians are always on the lookout for new ways to effectively and efficiently document patient visits.
The use of virtual medical scribes has become increasingly popular in the recent years, as medical practices across the country are on the constant lookout for ways to reduce clinical documentation overload, thereby improving overall productivity.
The clerical burden associated with EHR usage is attributed as the number one cause of physician burnout. We also know that physicians spend twice as much time on EHRs and other clerical tasks compared to the time providing patient care.