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When Convenience Comes to Call: How Virtual Scribes Complement the Rise of Virtual Medicine
In what has been referred to as a “bold bet on primary care,” retail giant Amazon recently acquired a primary care company named One Medical in a whopping $3.9 billion deal. This decision by Amazon has made one thing abundantly clear: When it comes to virtual health care, there’s a healthy demand—and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
But as the broad and ever-evolving world of Virtual Medicine continues to thrive, how do Virtual Scribes fit into the equation? Quite seamlessly, as it turns out.
A Common Thread of Convenience
Because Virtual Scribes are already accustomed to documenting health visits from a different location, they are well-versed (and well-trained) in recording every necessary detail without being in the actual exam room. As an article by Stat News explains, the companies both agreed that the goal of the Amazon deal was to offer more convenient and affordable health care both in-person and virtually.
For clinicians and Virtual Scribes, that goal is a familiar one. Making life more convenient is always the end goal when a clinician makes the decision to hire a Virtual Scribe—both for themselves and their patients.
That’s far from the only similarity between Virtual Scribes and Virtual Medicine, though. Much like the rise of tele-health, the popularity—and downright necessity—of Virtual Scribes has also come to light in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Senior Vice President of Amazon Health Services Neil Lindsay explained, the convenience of tele-health cannot be overlooked. “Booking an appointment, waiting weeks or even months to be seen, taking time off work, driving to a clinic, finding a parking spot, waiting in the waiting room and then then exam room for what is too often a rushed few minutes with a doctor, then making another trip to a pharmacy—we see lots of opportunity to improve the quality of the experience and give people back valuable time in their days,” he said.
How Virtual Scribes Fit into the Virtual Medicine Mix
With a common goal of giving people back valuable time in their day, it’s easy to see how both Virtual Medicine and Virtual Scribe offerings complement one another so effortlessly.
As an article by Medical Economics explains, Jonathan Weiss, MD, internist in Monticello, New York, has used a Virtual Scribe for the past four years. “His scribe does just about everything except take vital signs, draw blood, perform electrocardiograms and administer vaccines,” the article states.
“For example, in addition to completing all relevant documentation, the scribe listens to the doctor’s verbal instructions and then orders tests, initiates referrals, messages relevant office staff to obtain prior authorizations and checks off boxes in the EHR for quality measures.”
For clinicians who work in the Virtual Medicine space, hiring a Virtual Scribe to care for all of these tasks—in addition to all of the unexpected challenges that pop up throughout their day—is often the solution they’ve been looking for as they struggle to do it all.
Take it from Weiss himself: “Working with a remote scribe has been the single most work-changing thing I’ve done in 15 years,” he said. “If it was taken away from me, I would quit my job. I would not go back to the way I was doing things before.”
The Way Things Were Is Not the Way Things Are
Speaking of the way things were before, it goes without saying that there’s been a sizeable shift in all things healthcare-related since the beginning of the pandemic.
As we’ve discussed previously in “A Turn Toward Virtual: How Has Medical Documentation Changed with Virtual Medicine?” Virtual Medicine has surged since March 2020—but additional documentation demands have come right along with it. So, while virtual appointments held promise to improve physician efficiency, the demands of increased documentation are offsetting those gains and frustrating many providers.
As Dr. Weiss stated above, the addition of a Virtual Scribe can make all the difference.
At the end of the day, the goal of Virtual Scribes and Virtual Medicine is the same: to make life easier for everyone involved. Although Virtual Medicine’s rise in popularity had to come at the expense of a global pandemic, it has become a true silver lining for many time-pressed patients—just as Virtual Scribes have become a silver lining for many time-pressed providers.
Perhaps it was One Medical’s CEO, Amir Dan Rubin who said it best: “There is an immense opportunity to make the health care experience more accessible, affordable and even enjoyable for patients, providers, and payers.”
Convenience is clearly king in the busy lives of today’s patients and providers. Thanks to services like Virtual Medicine and Virtual Scribes coming together to help ease the burden, health care is becoming more accessible, affordable and even enjoyable for all right before our eyes.
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.