Medical Scribe Robots And Digitalization Of Health Records (6 Sources Of ROI)

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Medical Scribe Robots And Digitalization Of Health Records (6 Sources Of ROI)

Digitization of health records promises improvements in the delivery of personalized healthcare at lower costs. However, EHRs and smarter systems meant for providing physicians with decision support tools and simplifying data sharing between both providers and patients, have also brought forward several challenges. Physicians in particular have been burdened with responsibilities that take focus away from their patients. More time during patient encounters is being spent on EHRs and patient encounter documentation. This is not only putting pressure on the perceived quality of patient interaction and care but also results in physicians spending significant time off work on documentation. This burden has become a chief cause of physician burnout.

The key question decision-makers focus on while exploring solutions to ease physician burden is: how do we quantify and track the ROI from the digitization of health records and patient encounter documentation initiatives? Answering this question requires a deep understanding of where, and in what forms, these returns come from. Only with this understanding can one justify the investments.


1. Practice Efficiency Gains

The most valuable commodity for a physician is TIME. EHRs and patient encounter documentation solutions provide physicians with the tools to streamline their processes and eliminate zero value-added activities. 

Recent research has shown that physicians are spending an average of 1.84 hours a day for completing documentation. A significant number of them have reported spending two hours or more completing documentation outside work hours daily.

Patient encounters are typically coded using SEVEN content categories:

1) medical

2) therapeutic

3) lifestyle

4) psychosocial

5) positive talk

6) emotional talk

7) partnership


Time spent during a patient encounter that does not get coded in these categories is essentially unproductive in nature and is adding to the physician's burden.This burden is highest when physicians use the EHR System interface for the documentation of patient encounters. Not only response times are known to be longer on these systems, but their point-and-click interface also requires extensive typing – and this combination very often consumes more than 1/3 of patient face-to-face time. This also increases the time spent on signposting (telling the patient what you are doing when you shift your attention to the computer) when using the EHR for reading the screen or keying in details with or without verbal or visual contact with the patient. This puts pressure on the number of patient visits handled by a physician per day, as well as the perceived quality of practice and patient care. As an example, a physician who sees 12 patients per day earning @$100/hour, spending 20 minutes with each patient and 10 minutes of self-documentation, is effectively spending upwards of $4,000 per month on self-documentation!  

Integrated desktop dictation solutions provide documentation without the need for typing by leveraging speech recognition and facilitating movement between patient encounter fields in the EHR system more efficiently using simple voice commands. However, they come with a steep learning curve, and the challenge of iterative error correction resulting from inaccuracies due to deficiencies in the lexicon – as a result doing precious little other than saving typing effort.

The use of medical scribes (live or remote scribes @$20/hour), or transcription services (dictation-based medical transcription @$3.0/minute) is known to alleviate the data entry burden placed on physicians to some extent. However, it also adds new cost components like the cost of using scribes/transcription services and the cost of physician time spent reviewing and approving submitted transcripts outside of work hours daily. There are also the challenges of time-intensive training and onboarding of scribes, managing high turnover rates (attrition), and avoiding the potential risk of backlogs on account of batch processing. Even when these risks are well managed by the physician, in the example of the physician mentioned above, these solution options would cost more than $3,000 per month on services hired and in terms of the physician’s own time a net cost saving $1,000 per month compared to self-documentation! 

Digital scribes (a.k.a. medical robots) employ advances in ambient listening (AL), speech recognition (SR), natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and internet of things (IOT) to provide physicians with tools to automatically document elements of the spoken/equipment-sensed clinical encounter. They provide documentation accuracy of 99% and above, with no necessity for voice profile training.  Physicians can now spend less patient visit time on the EHR and more time with their patients improving many aspects of the visit. Cloud-based digital scribe technology requires minimal training, costs significantly lesser than other solution options, and frees up precious physician time unlocking incremental earnings potential. In the example of the physician mentioned above employing digital scribes translates to enabling natural patient conversations coupled with cost savings in excess of $750 per month, and a possible unlocking of incremental earnings potential to the tune of $3,750 per month – a combined gain of $4,000 per month! 


2. Minimum Disruption To Patient Experience

Patient experience is an integral component of healthcare quality, and it includes several aspects of healthcare delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care. Meaningful information sharing between patient and physician, and active engagement of patient and physician in healthcare delivery play a pivotal role in shaping over all patient experience.

Self-documentation using EHR Systems bring the challenges of long response times, excessive data entry, inability to navigate the system quickly, fear of missing something, and notes geared towards billing – all of which cause interference with the patient-clinician relationship, and negatively impact the patient experience. 

Accurate and dependable medical transcriptions using dictation software and/or medical scribes are expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive to the patient experience. The time lag between the patient visit and the note transcription is also a major downside. Therefore, physicians still have to complete some of the traditional documentation duties such as ordering medications, lab work, and/or imaging to ensure that patients were treated in a timely manner and this disrupts patient focus and impacts patient experience.

Digital scribes on the other hand deliver value beyond delivering practice efficiencies. They collect data from physician-patient interaction accurately and in real-time, helping with analytics-driven decision-making, including even automating some of these decisions as processes mature. They can also process clinical encounters involving multiple languages while supporting linguistic variations, styles, accents, visit types, and unique medical jargon use and this makes them the most physician and patient-friendly solution to consider.

3. AI-Driven Diagnosis & Treatment Recommendations

With digital archives and electronic health records, there is no lack of raw data. AI-based digital scribes are the ONLY solution that can provide the necessary foundation to help physicians to be aware of the best practice experiences of other doctors in group practice and the lessons learned from all such doctor-patient interactions captured in electronic health records. AI can also share the expertise and performance of specialists to supplement providers who might otherwise not have access to such expertise. Real-time decision support capabilities of these systems can surface multiple treatment options to develop a personalized and contextualized plan of care. More modern solutions are even leveraging population health machine learning models to predict populations at risk. 

Recomended Reading : 6 Practical Tips To Make Medical Scribing work


4. Medico-Legal Compliance

Accurate medical records constitute the first line of legal defense for physicians and they may be referred to in legal proceedings to understand the diagnosis, treatment, and progress of a patient, or they may be used to prove malpractice on the part of a health care provider. Given EHR’s value as a legal document, capturing accurate information in real time is of paramount importance. The toughest part of patient encounter documentation is ensuring unfamiliar medical terminology is accurately captured as an integral part of medical records. Once again HIPAA-certified AI-based digital scribes score superior in surfacing exceptions for physicians to address in real-time on account of the electronic interfaces they support to facilitate interoperability between various healthcare systems.


5. Low/No Switching Costs

Switching costs are the expenses that business incurs when they change solutions and/or providers. Unlike traditional dictation and transcription solutions, AI-based digital scribes leverage cloud technologies to provide subscription-based, no-learning curve solutions, to improve physician efficiency and patient care effectively bringing the barriers to trying and switching down to JUST A DECISION. 

6. Scalability

What maximizes the return on investment of patient encounter documentation solutions is their scalability. By going digital, healthcare executives and managers can grow their efficiencies and compliance advantages even as their business grows, without having to spend an arm-and-a-leg on overhead and infrastructure upgrades. 

When it comes to choosing solutions for the digitization of health records and patient encounter documentation, it pays to take a comprehensive view of how these SIX sources of ROI impact your business.  Don't trade short-term convenience for long-term consequences.

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Topics : Remote Medical Scribe Jobs

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