FAQs about Virtual Scribes

We at Physicians Angels are asked often about the technical details of how our service works, and what makes our Virtual Scribes different from other medical scribe companies.  Below are the most common questions we receive about Virtual Scribes, and our answers:

1) “Doesn’t a Virtual Scribe need to see the patients?  Isn’t video needed?”

Not at all.  We do not need to see patients.  We only need to hear the provider-patient encounter.  This is how we have done things for 1,000s of providers since we started as the world’s first Virtual Scribe company in 2007.  Based on what the provider vocalizes to the patient – abnormal findings, plan, medications, treatments, etc. – our Virtual Scribes document the patient’s chart in real-time in the EMR. 

Video provides no value-added with Virtual Scribes.  Video can even lead to more errors.  Even if a scribe could see what a provider is doing, how can the scribe be sure what exactly to chart?  The doctor still has to vocalize what to enter into the chart, so an audio-only Virtual Scribe service works just fine.

Plus, video takes consumes a lot of Internet bandwidth and can crash frequently.  Video-enabled devices can be clumsy and can distract a provider trying to focus on patient care.

Last, patients hate it. Who wants a third party, anonymous to them, looking in on their exam with a doctor?

2) “Isn’t using a voice recognition tool more time-saving and error-free than working with a Virtual Scribe?”

Research has not supported this at all.  A July 2018 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, entitled “Analysis of Errors in Dictated Clinical Documents Assisted by Speech Recognition Software and Professional Transcriptionists,” found an error rate of more than 7% in clinical documents charted using speech recognition software.  The study concluded that a human touch to edit and review was vital to error-free clinical documentation.  In sum, charts completed using speech recognition software tools still require hours of editing and correcting.

Many of Physicians Angels’ Virtual Scribe clients are former users of VR software.  Their feedback is consistent:  VR tools result in too many errors that providers need to correct later.  Plus, a provider still has to manually enter orders, prescriptions, and manage their templates.

A physician is better off in hiring a Virtual Scribe to do the charting in real-time, which results in less documentation errors, better quality charts, and saving much more time in the long run.

3) “Our physicians are burned out with their EMR.  They feel like they have paid too much on technology, with no results.  So, why should we have to pay more money for a Virtual Scribe?”

As you probably realize, solving IT burn-out with more IT – speech recognition; even more EMR training; improved templates or EMR user interfaces, etc. – will not work.  These IT fixes only layer more technology and multitasking on top of a providers’ already busy day.

Moreover, independent research in the past few years, as published by groups like the AMA, show that what is needed is a human touch to input, review, and edit clinical data efficiently and error-free into patient charts.  Virtual Scribes provide this for you by serving as trained and certified EMR data managers.

Another way to think about the cost of a Virtual Scribe is as follows: Physicians Angels’ services cost $12-16 per hour.  Assume an 8- or 9-hour clinic day.  On average then, our Virtual Scribes will cost you $100-$150 per day. Now, asking a provider who earns your clinic $300-400 per hour seeing patients to, instead, chart for 1-2 hours minimum each day will cost you much more – closer to $1,000 per day in lost productivity, plus the costs related to provider burn-out and stress.

So, if you are not paying for a Virtual Scribe, then you are paying with a provider’s time – and risking physician burn-out.  So, which is the better deal for your clinic?