Scribes vs. Dictation Software

As healthcare moves forward into the digital age, many in the industry are left wondering when the quality of the software will catch up to other technology. If you’re a doctor, you might know what we’re talking about. If you’ve been to the doctor in the last 5 years, you too know what we’re talking about. Healthcare providers are required to use Electronic Health Record (EHR) software in order to document their patient visit information. But as doctors continue to spend more time at their computers and less time with their patients, many are left desiring a solution that alleviates this burden.

As a doctor, you are constantly switching back and forth between taking notes as you’re interacting with a patient. To make matters worse, you are forced to navigate a generally sluggish program in order to document every little detail perfectly so that you are billed and paid properly. You are required to click boxes and submit orders that take time away from patient care. If you prefer not to interrupt the interaction with your patient, you may elect to spend time at the end of your day charting. This leads to hours of extra work.

On average, providers spend roughly ⅓ of their week charting in the EHR. You’ve worked hard your entire life so that you could provide great care to patients, and this experience is not helping you do so.  Something needs to change. The obvious demand here has driven companies to provide a solution. So far, this has manifested in two forms: dictation software and medical scribes. Which one is right for you?

Dictation software essentially converts speech to text. It is able to accurately and efficiently create notes for doctors, based on their speech. You are still required to navigate the EHR, but spend far less time typing and creating notes. When using dictation software, you are able to complete your notes after a patient visit. While this software is certainly helpful, it still requires you to use EHRs and spend time creating notes yourself.

While dictation is certainly helpful, it does not fully relieve the burden of navigating EHRs and taking the time to create notes. Another solution is hiring someone to take the notes for you. A medical scribe can navigate the EHR and create notes as the visit is happening. Scribes can create a note by listening to a patient visit. They can be trained to add diagnoses codes, order labs, create plans, and more. These scribes can be onsite working along with the provider in the visit room or remotely by using audio-video streaming technology such as Google glass.

In a study on the impact of scribes on patient interaction, productivity, and revenue, researchers found that the amount of patients doctors could see per hour increased by 59%, and time of patient interaction without a computer increased to almost 500%.  As a doctor, you will still need to use the EHR to complete certain tasks and sign off on notes to ensure correctness. However, using scribes, you spend roughly 75% less time in the EHR.

Both dictation software and scribes offer much needed support. As you navigate the best way to provide care to your patients, consider these two options and which might alleviate some of the burden of your already stressful job.  In addition to creating a better experience for your patients, using the above-mentioned services allows you to see more patients every day, which can often offset the cost of the service. These technologies are not only creating efficiency, but also are helping rehumanize an industry that has been steadily losing its humanity.