Do Virtual Medical Scribes Bring Back the Human Connection in Medicine

virtual medical scribe physician patient relationship

June 16, 2022

Do Virtual Medical Scribes Bring Back the Human Connection in Medicine

Effective physician-patient communication not only fosters good physician-patient relationships but also improves care and clinical outcomes. However, the increasing amount of time spent on EHRs, changed physicians’ priorities all at the expense of patients. EHR demands detract from building a meaningful physician-patient relationship, a study published in family medicine says. Yes, the use of EHRs is blamed for having a negative impact on physician-patient relationships and communication. That human interaction is what made physicians choose this profession in the first place because it is where they derive the joy and satisfaction of practicing medicine. Missing the human connection? Well, opting to use virtual medical scribes not only reduces the burden associated with EHR documentation but also improves your relationship with the patient, the key to better quality care and improved health outcomes. Most importantly, scribes restore the human connection and reinstate the joy of practicing medicine.

Why is the physician-patient relationship so important and what interferes with it?

Patients value the time and attention that physicians give during a hospital visit. Physicians have to focus on the patient, make eye contact, listen intently, look for emotional cues and try to connect with them. However, while taking a patient history sitting in front of the laptop, navigating through EHRs and checking boxes, often forces a physician to focus at their computer screens, rather than the patient sitting in front of them. It is here that a physician misses an opportunity to establish a meaningful connection with the patient. With physicians already pressed for time and the need to simultaneously document patient visits into the EHRs, makes patients feel rushed and unheard during a visit. With a virtual medical scribe to assume the EHR charting tasks, physicians can take the time to listen attentively which greatly improves patient satisfaction and the quality of care. Moreover, as virtual scribes are not physically present in the exam room, patients feel at ease and discuss even their sensitive medical issues freely. This helps them feel more connected and build better relationships.

How virtual medical scribes can improve physician-patient relationship?

We all know that the widespread adoption of EHRs has resulted in some unintended negative consequences – like physicians spending more time documenting encounters and less time on patients. This can potentially harm communication with patients. Why struggle to strike a balance between making an eye contact with your patient as well as typing your notes into the EHRs? By hiring a virtual medical scribe to document patient visits physicians can give their undivided time and attention to care for the patients. With scribes bearing the burden of EHR, physicians can spend more time with their patients, which make maintaining a physician-patient relationship easier. In short, the simple reassurance that the physician is paying attention leads to greater patient satisfaction. And patient satisfaction is the measure of how happy a patient is with the physician, which forms the basis of a solid physician-patient relationship.

Let us see what studies have to say about the use of medical scribes in strengthening the physician-patient relationship

The use of scribes in an academic GIM setting demonstrated an improvement in physician satisfaction without compromising on patient satisfaction.

A quasi-experimental pilot study was conducted to understand how the use of scribes impacted physician-patient communication in a primary care setting. The study revealed that patients reported high levels of satisfaction with their communication with physicians.

ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research Journal published by Dove Medical Press says that use of medical scribes in a cardiology clinic not only improves physician productivity but also physician-patient interactions.

Patients need to establish a strong relationship with their physicians to get the most out of their visit. With mounting EHR documentation requirements, physicians are forced to work at their computers which can negatively affect face-to-face interactions with patients. There can be times when physicians may unintentionally display a lack of empathy towards patients by gazing at their computer screens rather than at the patient. This can be avoided by hiring virtual medical scribes who takeover the entire responsibility of documenting in the EHR. Now that “documentation” the barrier to effective, open and emphatic communication has been removed physicians can maintain eye contact, pay attention and listen to patient concerns, and watch for nonverbal cues all without EHR distraction. This results in high-quality care and better patient outcomes.

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