How Can Medical Scribes and Assistants Help a Practice?

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Medical practices and offices have been stretched thin over the past two years with the international health crisis.  Prior to this they were already dealing with demanding patient requirements, an aging population, challenging insurance requirements, labor shortages and other issues. Medical assistants and virtual physician scribes can off load scut work in a medical practice. Scut comes from the acronym, “some clinically useful task.” Scut work has a negative connotation. However, it is required work for a reason, and it must get done for medical offices to run smoothly. Scut work are tasks that can be completed by someone without a medical degree. This type of work while necessary does not require the highest skills set. A practice does not want higher paid staff doing this, and certainly it does not want doctors doing it.

Virtual physician scribes and medical assistants can allow doctors to improve patient care and satisfaction. They can provide staff augmentation for a healthcare provider’s back office team and off load record keeping, customer service, billing, accounting, and EMR management. In the remainder of this article, we will highlight what medical scribe and medical assistants do, plus all the various advantages of using and leveraging them. There are numerous benefits and advantages too. Healthcare scribes and assistants can provide doctors with more time with patients, more time to focus on what is important, increase efficiency of a practice as well as reduce costs and increase profits. 

What Do Medical Scribes and Medical Assistants Do?

A physician scribe and virtual medical assistant must fit into a workflow that is clearly mapped out within a medical practice. There is typically a large amount of work that does not need to be in person. This type of work nearly always falls into that scut work category. These mundane and routine tasks cannot always be automated and when that is the case, virtual help and staff augmentation can be an excellent option.

During the day scribes are available digitally and virtually to take notes and get them recorded in real time. They are listening in and updating charts during the patient’s appointment. A nice benefit is that having someone virtual is less intrusive for the patient. At the conclusion of a patient visit the doctor and scribe will have a short conversation for 20-30 seconds to synchronize and record the plan of care, what lab tests may be needed, what imaging is required, and if any referrals need to be made. In this workflow everything is recorded right away and error free versus doing it at the end of the day when mistakes might be made. Virtual physician scribes allow the doctor to be a doctor, and not a data entry person.   

Document indexing and ensuring everything is categorized in the right place is also something that a medical scribe will perform. Medical practices have for a long time had to address data sets coming from outside a practice. Scribes can help practices create their own electronic data sets. A doctor scribe can be a part of many different healthcare settings including, Urgent Care, Emergency Room

Cardiology, Ophthalmology, Radiology, Endocrinology, Neurology, Surgery, Orthopedic, Hematology, Oncology and much more.

Virtual Medical Assistants, just like scribes, also slot into process workflows in a medical practice and perform a variety of administrative tasks for healthcare providers. Most practices and providers are buried with administrative tasks and scut work. Virtual Medical Assistants, like their medical scribes counterparts, can ensure a more smooth and efficient functioning of a practice. Scribes are all about recording a doctor’s notes while assistants are following up and performing any task that does not require in person staff. Some of the functions they assume include contact center operations for inbound and outbound calls, email, and chat. They also can manage appointment scheduling, rescheduling and cancellations. They can ensure that the EMR is always up-to-date and manage the entire prior authorization workflow. Virtual medical assistants can manage incoming and outgoing referrals plus manage insurance follow-ups. Medical assistants (including the ones Valenta provides) are able to use and have expertise in common software tools used in practices including. Epic, WebPT, Cerner, Meditech, eClinicalWorks, Allscripts, Nextgen, Athenahealth, Advanced MD, and many more.

What are the Advantages of Using Virtual Physician Scribes and Medical Assistants? 

Process mapping what happens in a practice is key to being able to leverage medical staff augmentation. It is also key to using automation and bots in a practice. When it comes to business process optimization, chances are if you can not automate a task or role, virtual staff can be the next best way to optimize, and streamline. Now that we have discussed what the role of a medical scribe and virtual medical assistant is, let us discuss the advantages to their utilization

More Time with Patients

Having more time to spend with patients is the biggest advantage of staff augmentation in a healthcare setting. As noted earlier, doctors are not acting as data entry staff when they have a scribe and spend more quality time advising patients as a consequence. Onsite personnel in an office can also be freed up to spend more face to face time with patients when assisted and backstopped by virtual medical assistants. All of this leads to a better patient experience and ultimately better care for patients. Improving quality of care and experience for patients is reason enough to investigate contracting for virtual staff.

Focus on What is Important

Patients are what is most important but virtual staff can help in other ways too. First and foremost, virtual physician scribes can help prevent doctor burn out. Scribes can off load documentation that doctors need to do typically after hours, during what some have called pajama time. Virtual assistants can also help medical staff avoid burn out as well. Office staff will not be buried with the lowest value work and can instead provide a more individualized touch with patients. Staff augmentation in healthcare can provide both doctors and office managers with more time to run their business, think and act more strategically and make practices more streamlined and profitable.

Increase efficiency

The increase in efficiency brought with virtual healthcare scribes and medical assistants benefit all staff and not just the doctors. In the case of a physician scribe everything is done in real time, so it is more accurate. This leads to better care all the way around and the office staff being able to follow up on patient requirements in real time. An overlooked efficiency gain when it comes to outsourcing medical office staff is that no time is wasted on seemingly constant employee recruitment. Staffing in medical and healthcare offices is a continual process that consumes the time of office managers. Staff augmentation can address this issue on a long term basis.  Additionally, there is no time wasted on training new staff, as the company providing the staff (at least good service providers like Valenta) will train added resources as and when required when they are brought on.

Reduce Costs and Increase Profitability

Understanding processes and documenting them as detailed SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) at the start of engagement for staff augmentation will help uncover all the different roles that might benefit from healthcare staff augmentation. A healthcare provider or medical practice can save money when it comes to virtual scribes and assistants because outsourced staff will cost less than onsite employees. The month to month nature of staff augmentation is also much more flexible and risk free than the employer and employee relationship. Valenta monthly rates for virtual medical assistants and scribes are typically half to one third of what a salary would be for personnel onshore. When you add to that, the costs in terms of taxes, health insurance, and infrastructure in the form of office equipment, desks, etc., … the savings can be extremely attractive.

Glassdoor states that a medical office manager salary is 59K a year in Chicago IL

Glassdoor also finds that a medical billing specialist salary is 56K a year in Phoenix AZ

Finally, it also finds that a medical scribe salary is 64K a year in Orlando FL

To research other roles, cities, or countries you can find the Glassdoor site for salary research here.

Want to Learn More?

We trust that we have covered in adequate detail what medical scribe and medical assistants do, plus the advantages of using and leveraging them. As we have seen, scribes and assistants can improve the quality of patient care and their experience, provide doctors with more time with patients, more time to focus on what is important, increase efficiency of a practice, plus reduce staff costs and increase profits for a practice. As compliance in the healthcare industry gets more stringent, reimbursements get more scrutiny, and practices are measured by patient experience.  In this environment, virtual medical scribes and virtual medical assistants can be a big asset.

A quick and no charge consultation can help determine if medical staff augmentation is a fit for your practice. In addition to being a provider of staff augmentation and outsourcing. Valenta is a business consulting, digital transformation, and business software integration services provider. Besides providing outsourced scribes and medical assistants we also provide other virtual staff including bookkeepers, accountants, IT support, and digital marketing. We are 100% focused on serving small and midsized businesses, and many of these are professional service providers like medical practices. We provide the same services large consulting firms offer to the Fortune 1,000.

If you would like to learn more about virtual medical scribes, virtual medical assistants, or some other role, please let us know.  Our website is an excellent source of information if you would like to read more.

You can find a link to our primary page covering virtual medical scribes and assistant services here.

If you would like to get in touch on this topic or any others, please reach out here.

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