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Sensitive Information and Virtual Scribe Security: Why Clinicians Can’t Afford to Settle

Concerned woman with laptop thinks about virtual scribe security

So, you’ve decided to hire a Virtual Scribe. Even with that decision under your belt, there are still a few things to consider before deciding on the right scribe company for you. As we’ve discussed previously, confirming your scribe company has a proper training regimen can make all the difference. Something else that can quickly make or break your Virtual Scribe experience? Security.

Concerns about the security of Virtual Scribes may at first blush seem like a “Con” when considering your scribe options. But with the right service and company, it can actually be at the top of the “Pro” column. To get to that level, what should you be looking for? What security measures do the top Virtual Scribe companies deploy? 

Leading Virtual Scribe companies invest heavily in sophisticated security protocols. These include having:

  • HIPAA Secure VOIP Technology that ensures all personal data is protected at all times.
  • Physical facilities controlled by the company and inaccessible to anyone without proper credentials.
  • Secure storage of patient data.
  • Thorough background checks and data breach protocols for all scribe employees.

The Elements of a Secure Virtual Scribe Service

To help you understand what goes into a Virtual Scribe provider’s security protocol, here are some of the key elements we have in place at Physicians Angels:

  • Our operation centers in India are facilities that we own and control 100%.
  • Our employees are fully vetted, trained and certified, and we do not hire Virtual Scribes to work from home or from non-secure facilities that we do not own and control—neither in the U.S. or overseas.
  • We do not store data or personal health information. We listen in to encounters between the doctor and patient in real-time, via Skype or Skype for Business—both of which are HIPAA compliant (and more so than a phone or fax line, over which patient data is routinely transmitted in the U.S.).
  • We train our staff in security and HIPAA best practices and procedures.  Our operation centers are ISO certified (9001 and 27001) and have biometric scanners and cameras inside to ensure no data breaches. We do not allow our staff to carry papers, cellphones or media storage devices into or out of our offices.
  • For additional security purposes, the USB ports and CD-ROM drives on all our scribes' computers are disabled. Our communications are encrypted at 256-bit AES—Microsoft Teams; LogMeIn Central; or any other software platform that we might use.

Independent audits that we have done the past few years have found that security at our facilities is greater than or equal to what is present at most U.S. hospitals and clinics with whom we work. We have no history of data theft or breaches and no history of litigation.

And, because security and privacy go hand-in-hand, it’s worth noting that many patients prefer Virtual Scribes over an in-person Medical Scribe.

According to the article, “Medical Scribes Versus Virtual Medical Scribes: How Do they Compare?” there’s an added comfort that comes with the virtual aspect of Virtual Scribes. “Studies have shown that patients may feel uncomfortable with an in-person and a doctor both present in a small examination room,” the article states. “Some patients may fear being judged by the extra person in the room. Using a Virtual Scribe who is not present in the room helps put the patient at ease when undergoing medical examination. This can help build a better relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider.”

When it comes to securing the right Virtual Scribe for you and your office, a sophisticated security protocol should climb to the top of the list. For your own peace of mind—and that of your patients—make sure you’re working with a company that keeps its procedures and protocols at the top of their own priority list too.

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.

About the author

Physicians Angels

More time for physicians to see more patients, provide better care, and live their lives. Physicians Angels provides one-of-a-kind EMR data management services to healthcare providers through our real time Virtual Scribe service.