Bridging wearable technology and charting

According to an annual survey by MedScape/WebMD published on April 2015, only  64% of physicians would choose medicine as a career, with 47% of internists–a group that includes Primary Care Physicians (PCPs)– reporting they are satisfied with their jobs. More damning: only 25% of internists stated that they would choose the same specialty if given a chance to do it all over again.

Medicine as we know is undergoing a number of changes, and there is a growing emphasis placed on PCPs as significant points of contact for health care. It’s concerning that the potential stewards of our health care are so glum about their profession, and it more concerning that this is the case across specialties.

Last spring, there was a popular op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, titled “ Why Doctors are Sick of their Profession”. The author of the widely-commented upon piece, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, a cardiologist in New Jersey and the author of the book “Doctored: The Disillusionment of the American Physician”, references a number of factors as sources of dissatisfaction: the increasing amount of red tape in medicine; the problems inherent with defensive medicine, which makes patient-care less about care and more about “CYB”–Covering Your Butt, as one doctor puts it; and of course the ever-increasing amount of charting and administrative tasks that doctors must do.

How can Augmedix address the last concern–medical charting? This is a thorny issue, for which a number of potential solutions have been devised. There was a thought that shifting paper charting to electronic records would solve a lot of problems. While it has made sharing information a bit easier, it has introduced other problems. Many physicians now find themselves fixed to the computer, which affects patient care in its own way. In fact, a study published in December 2013 by Northwestern University showed that doctors with EHR (Electronic Health Records) spend, on average, ⅓ of a patient visit staring at a computer.

One solution is to have someone write a chart on behalf of a healthcare provider. This is becoming increasingly popular within medical practices. In some doctor’s offices, medical assistants, nurses, or physician assistants chart on behalf of the healthcare provider. There are certainly advantages, one of which is that these individuals, as trained medical personnel, already understand medicine and medical practice well. However, given how critical medical assistants, nurses, and physician assistants are to a functioning clinic, it is a waste of resources to have them chart.

Instead of using medical assistants and nurses, some companies are focusing on placing scribes in physicians’ offices, whose sole role is to chart. This is less expensive compared to the model mentioned above, but there are some drawbacks:

Traditional in-person scribing services are not cheap. In addition to already paying for a medical staff, clinics have to pay for a group of scribes. Per industry standards, it costs medical organizations approximately $20-25/hour for a scribe.

There is huge turnover among scribes. Currently, scribing tends to be an attractive option for pre-health students; scribing is a way for them to get relevant medical experience before transitioning to professional school. While these individuals tend to be capable, training a group of new scribes is a time-and-cost-intensive process. For some companies, training a new scribe can take at least 120 hours.

Augmedix is a documentation solution that removes all interrupting technologies from a patient visit. By providing wearable technology, like Google Glass, to physicians, Augmedix helps physicians save up to 3 hours of charting every day, see 1.9 more patients on average, and otherwise significantly improve charting quality. Our team of medically trained scribes do the charting so physicians can do what they do best: caring for patients.

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