More and more we're hearing from clients that want to train staff to do the newest thing in the medical scribe world: work remotely. We've heard stories of undergraduate students, medical assistants, and nurses all starting to do this newfangled role. Whereas an in-person scribe follows a provider around, crafting notes based on what they see and hear, remote medical scribes view the encounter through a camera (or sometimes just a microphone) placed in the patient's room. Now, the first thing I thought was, is this legal? Yes, it can be. Any internet providing service to a healthcare facility has to be healthcare compliant, meaning it's encrypted to protected patient data. So the internet that the device is using to stream is ok to use. But then patients need to agree to be recorded as well so that this doesn't infringe on their privacy (you cannot record patient interactions without consent). There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to this system. One advantage is that the patient may feel more comfortable having only one person other than themselves in the room (the provider!). One disadvantage, is that this can be expensive. Mounted cameras with good microphones and streaming capabilities can be a couple thousand dollars a piece, so the usual provider has 2-3 dedicated rooms, so that's 5,000-10,000 dollars to install the cameras. And then the internet server may need to be upgraded to account for the extra bandwidth being used, which is another several thousand dollars. But maybe, this new system will allow them to save money to make up for these costs. Not all patient encounters are equally difficult to document. Pediatric well child checks and routine physicals in healthy patients can be largely written from a template in most clinics. Maybe remote scribes allow a provider to only pay for services (for a particular patient) when they feel they need it...? In any case, the future is coming, and MSTS is here to help any organization that may be interested in training staff to write medical notes remotely.
Healthcare providers have enough on their plate. According to The Physicians Foundation, 80% of providers feel that they are working at their maximum capacity or are overextended. Corresponding to that, 78% of physicians often or always have feelings of burnout. Now, medical scribes can be used for a variety of reasons, but provider burnout is probably at the top of that list. The average physician spends 11-12 hours on documentation outside of work per week. By adding a medical scribe to a practice, clinicians can significantly reduce the amount of time that they spend on a computer after work. But not just any scribe will do that. Believe it or not, they need to have some training. That's where MSTS comes in. Do you have a great medical assistant or nurse already working with you in clinic? Get them some training in documentation of the medical note so they can help take some of the work off your plate!
Despite the now widespread use of medical scribes, there are few studies out there that objectively measure the results of their use. A literature review out of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine identified five studies from 2000 to 2014 analyzing the impacts on clinical practice of using a scribe.
The results were as follows:
These were the biggest takeaways from the article and we wanted to highlight some of them because they help provide some objective information about using scribes in a clinical practice that is naive to them.
The full article can be found here: https://www.jabfm.org/content/28/3/371