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EHR Documentation Using Virtual Scribes Boosts Clinician Satisfaction

The use of virtual scribes has accelerated since the onset of COVID-19 to address EHR documentation burden and improve clinician satisfaction.

Healthcare organizations that have leveraged virtual scribes reported decreased EHR documentation time and improved clinician satisfaction, according to a KLAS report.

Virtual scribes are remote human scribes who communicate with clinicians via a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or another two-way communication device. Scribes enter clinical notes, update charts, clarify information, and make suggestions to physicians.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the adoption of virtual scribing services has grown among healthcare organizations to ease documentation burdens and limit the number of staff members present during patient examinations.

The KLAS report outlines client experiences with two frequently used virtual scribe vendors: ScribeEMR and AQuity Solutions.

While acute and ambulatory care organizations use both firms, AQuity Solutions’ market share is more equally split across both types of organizations, and their customers tend to be larger (76+ physicians or 201+ beds). On the other hand, ScribeEMR’s client base includes more small ambulatory care organizations (1–75 physicians).

Clients of both vendors reported positive feedback about their overall experience.

Healthcare organizations described AQuity Solutions’ services as highly effective and beneficial. The report found that AQuity Solutions customers are more likely than ScribeEMR clients to report achieving key outcomes.

While most ScribeEMR respondents report positive outcomes, some noted that challenges with documentation accuracy and turnaround time have limited the benefits of the virtual scribe services.

Clients of both firms report the following general outcomes, listed by most frequently mentioned to least frequently mentioned:

  1. Improved physician satisfaction
  2. Improved patient experience
  3. Physicians catching up on documentation backlog
  4. More complete and accurate documentation that sometimes results in increased revenue
  5. Increased schedule utilization among patients, allowing physicians to see more patients per day
  6. Physicians being able to work on other tasks

ScribeEMR clients reported satisfaction with the involvement and accessibility of the firm’s executives. The vendor is seen as a responsive and flexible partner that seeks feedback regularly, the report noted.

Alternatively, AQuity Solutions customers are less satisfied with their relationship with the firm. While some clients view AQuity as a collaborative partner that gives strategic direction, others have encountered challenges such as slow problem resolution, inconsistent lines of communication, and a lack of notification regarding scribe turnover.

Almost all respondents (94 percent) reported that their firm’s services have had a positive or highly positive impact on their EHR documentation time.

However, scribe turnover, IT complications, and low-quality scribes can prevent organizations from reaping the beneficial outcomes they set out for. To help other organizations looking to use virtual scribing services, KLAS respondents shared the following best practices.

  1. Promote physician ownership: Ensure physicians are committed to training scribes and building strong partnerships.
  2. Identify effective partnerships: Most organizations with highly satisfied physicians identify effective scribe and physician partnerships and minimize scribe rotation among physicians.
  3. Have backup scribes: Work with the firm to ensure backup scribes are available in case primary scribes can’t log in.
  4. Work through short-term language barriers: Because some virtual scribes are based overseas, organizations may have to work through initial language barriers.  
  5. Be prepared for technology challenges: Organizations should be prepared for minor obstacles including connectivity issues and software updates that are commonplace for any virtual services firm.

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