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Real-Time vs. Asynchronous: Which Virtual Scribe Works Best?

Virtual Scribe Works Best

Physician burnout is a pressing concern, often linked to the large amount of time that healthcare providers now must spend managing their electronic health records (EHRs). Physicians overwhelmed by EHR-related tasks continue to seek innovative and cost-effective solutions to alleviate these EHR documentation burden, while enhancing the quality of patient care.

Virtual scribes are a tried-and-true solution. Virtual, or remote scribes, work live and in real-time with healthcare providers to complete a wide array of EHR documentation tasks to ensure charts are completed same day.

Newer virtual scribe models hold great promise, offering both real-time and asynchronous options. Here, we will delve into the differences between these two models and compare the benefits and limitations of each in optimizing physician workflows.

Virtual Scribe: Real-Time vs. Asynchronous/Ambient Listening

Virtual scribe and asynchronous, or “ambient listening AI” scribe both aim to reduce the burden of EHR documentation, but with significant differences.

A real-time virtual scribe is present via phone or teleconferencing technology (Teams, Zoom) and concurrently documents the visit in the EHR. Physicians can interact with the scribe in real-time, clarifying details or directing the documentation process as needed. The real-time virtual scribe can assist with orders, prescriptions, and other ancillary tasks also. This setup mimics the traditional in-person scribing experience, offering immediate support and integrating seamlessly into the workflow.

In contrast, an asynchronous virtual scribe documents using recordings from clinical encounters, without real-time interactions and significant delays in completing the patient chart. The process involves recording the encounter and transcribing it either with the help of a remote scribe or through AI-based technologies, often labelled as “virtual scribe” or “ambient AI listening.” While this model removes the need for a scribe to be present during the visit, it limits the scribe's ability to perform real-time support tasks that can further reduce the physician's workload, and often leads to the physician having to spend significant time editing the chart line by line to correct errors.

Real-Time vs. Asynchronous Virtual Scribes: Benefits And Limitations

Real-time virtual scribes offer immediate documentation support, reducing physician EHR time and improving workflow efficiency. They can also assist with non-documentation tasks, such as pending orders, further easing the burden on physicians. However, they require coordination during patient visits and may not be as effective in enhancing team contributions to orders.

Asynchronous/ambient listening virtual scribes alleviate the need for real-time coordination, which could make workflow smoother and more efficient. Yet, they may not assist with non-documentation tasks and may lack the immediacy of support offered by real-time scribes. Additionally, their ability to speed up workflows beyond documentation may be limited.

Decide On The Right Fit

Both real-time and asynchronous virtual scribe models provide valuable support in reducing the EHR documentation burden that contributes to physician burnout. Choosing the model depends on the specific needs and preferences of the healthcare practice, aiming to balance efficiency and support to benefit physicians and patients alike. Turn-around time for completion of patient charts, and cost are significant factors to consider when making a choice between the two.

If you are looking for a real-time virtual scribe consider partnering with Physicians Angels. Our certified virtual scribes are rigorously trained in physicians’ documentation preferences, specialties, and EHRs to consistently ensure high-quality charting.

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.