Time-crunched doctors are relying on remote-working scribes to take notes via video call

Medical scribes first appeared in the 1970s, when they began serving as note-takers for ER physicians. But after the federal HITECH Act motivated healthcare providers to adopt electronic health records, scribing really took off. EHRs were supposed to simplify patient record-keeping, but instead they had the opposite effect, with physicians needing to enter visit data and notes into a cumbersome and time-consuming electronic record. Thus, scribing became a fast-growing field in the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the need for remote scribes because note-takers can no longer accompany doctors into exam rooms.

One of the companies providing these services is McKesson Ventures portfolio company Augmedix. In a recent Fortune magazine article, the company, which has a workforce of 1,000 scribes in the U.S. and in South Asia, described how the scribing process works.

Remote scribes are patched into the exam room’s sound via a tablet, speaker, or video connection. Augmedix recruits people who have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and screens them for proficiency in English reading, listening comprehension, and writing. Once hired, scribes take about three months of training that includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and mock visits. Most scribes hired by Augmedix are aspiring health professionals.

Augmedix CEO Many Krakaris says that the company’s revenue has grown this year, and its sales team has grown from four to 14 members. Senior scribes can earn $1,000 to $1,500 a month, which is a middle-class family income in India. The average salary for a less experienced scribe in India is $500 a month.

The service typically costs physicians between $12 and $25 an hour. Studies have shown that scribe use is linked to higher job satisfaction for physicians and the ability to see more patients, which can mean more revenue for the practice. Studies have shown that patients view scribes with a positive or neutral reaction, although some may refuse to have a remote scribe due to patient concerns.

Although AI-assisted scribing systems such as those provided by Augmedix won’t relieve all physician burnout-inducing tasks like submitting requests for insurance company approvals of drugs, tests, and procedures, it’s clear that they definitely help healthcare providers to enjoy a better work-life balance and better patient engagement.

Read the original article here.