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Launching a Medical Scribe Service: Tips for Success
As a clinician, you’ve likely spent far too long buried under the demands of documentation. You’ve taken more work home than you ever imagined, and you understand first-hand what it means to be burnt out. But you’ve also seen the studies about how much time you could be saving with the help of a medical scribe—and you’ve finally decided it’s time to take that step.
With a range of scribe options available, you’ll want to consider many factors to determine the type that works best for your practice. But whether you choose a virtual or a live scribe, how you manage the launch of your scribe service will go a long way to determining your ultimate success. As discussed in a recent article by the American Medical Association that outlines best practices, getting your documentation service off the ground can be a painless process—and one that will quickly pay dividends when it comes to productivity.
At the launch of a scribe service in your practice, your core objective is to make the transition as seamless as possible for everyone involved. Your staff, your IT team, your patients…and yourself! Even if you’ve worked with a scribe before, there will likely be a learning curve as you establish the new relationship. The scribe will need to understand how you and your practice operate; and you will need to see how the scribe works from their end.
Preparing with these 3 simple steps will help everyone get into a groove in short order, so you can cut to the chase and start saving more of your treasured time:
1. Designate a Dedicated Scribe Team
Before researching and hiring a scribe company, consider allocating a point person or change team to plan and handle the logistics of integrating the service into your practice. This person or team will ensure things run smoothly and efficiently.
“When creating a change team, select a high-level champion—such as the medical director, division head, or chair of the department—and develop a multi-disciplinary team, including representatives from administration, nurses, medical assistants, information technology personnel, compliance and physicians,” the AMA article says. Your scribe service provider should also play a leading role in the transition, as they’ve been through it many times with other practices.
2. Start Small and Grow Together
You may also want to consider starting with a limited number of physicians with your new scribe service. This way, if the service ends up not being the best fit for your practice, your full team will not be completely invested. The decision to start small—think one or two clinicians—is a smart way to get a firsthand feel of how things will run.
“As institutional knowledge grows and bugs are worked out, the process can be spread to more physicians. Many practices report a three-to-six-month learning curve,” the article notes. This is helpful information too, as it encourages practices to stick with the service for the right amount of time up front, even if it may feel a little bumpy at first.
It may also be beneficial to begin with a pilot trial of the scribe service itself. A limited term, after which either party can walk away with no further obligation, can give you a feel for whether or not the service you’ve selected is even right for you—before signing a contract for a longer term. If you find that it’s not working, at least you won’t be out a tremendous amount of time or money. If it is, you’ll feel even more confident about signing on for the long haul and cultivating your relationship with your trusted scribe service.
3. Keep a Strong Connection
Finally, perhaps the most important step of all is to keep the lines of communication open with your scribe partner. Weekly meetings or check-ins can help expose any issues on either side before they become problematic. Just like with any other relationship, the one between a clinician and a scribe provider requires healthy communication to keep it running smoothly. If it’s not, your practice will pay the price in the end.
“The physician and team should meet (regularly) to review and adjust the workflow. The meetings can also be used to continue the educational process about clinical issues, billing and coding,” according to the article.
The best news of all? While even something as seemingly simple as a team meeting would have been nearly impossible to squeeze in during your pre-scribe days, now you’ll find yourself with the time for things just like this—and it’s all thanks to the scribe service that your practice just successfully launched.
Physicians Angels is the industry’s first virtual scribe company, providing real-time documentation directly into the physician’s EMR, along with Virtual Back Office services. Our services save the physician an average of 10 hours per week, thereby improving patient throughput and contributing to a better work/life balance for the physician and office staff. To learn more, visit physiciansangels.com or contact us.