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There are many factors needed to make a successful optometric business, and while efficient documentation may seem like just a small part it is a very important one. That’s why many vision care providers are considering the use of medical scribes. Scribes, or documentation assistants, are professionals who take notes on behalf of the doctor. But a scribe is capable of so much more.
Medical scribes also transcribe and update information into a patient’s electronic health record, which contributes toward accuracy, efficiency, and even patient satisfaction, and reduces overall data entry time.
For optometrists in Oklahoma City or beyond, here are a few reasons to consider hiring a scribe, as well as some of the potential drawbacks.
With a scribe, patient records will likely be more accurate because they can take the time to ensure that everything is up to date while the doctor moves on to other patients. Often, the scribe is still in the room with the patient after the doctor has left. When sending medications and refills, for example, this may be when the patient indicates a change to their pharmacy, which the scribe would then update. A scribe may also enter orders or fill orders. Accuracy is key, translating into better outcomes for patients.
Scribing can improve efficiency. In explaining the role of medical scribes, Alex DelVecchio suggests that physicians can hire them if they don’t want to spend time copying the details of a patient’s visit into their record. A scribe can ask questions and record answers before an exam, streamlining the process and enabling the increase of patient volume.
Scribing also provides means for a more patient-centric experience because the OD can avoid having to take notes during face-to-face interactions. According to a study conducted by researchers from the Kaiser Permanente-integrated healthcare organization, scribes significantly improved productivity. Practicing this way results in a higher satisfaction rate. In fact, the same study showed an improvement in job satisfaction too.
One of the first things to consider when hiring a new team member is the cost to the company. Along with their salary, the cost of training should be considered. So, while a scribe may cost a bit more, they can also play an important role in increasing patient flow in order to offset some of that cost.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
Some scribes are pre-med students. However, since there are no specific requirements, an OD could end up with a scribe who has little to no experience in healthcare. Furthermore, a scribe is only qualified to take notes and update EHR records. Therefore, their contribution to the practice is somewhat limited.
Working with a scribe means potentially changing the current workflow. As an OD, it may be customary to input a patient’s slit lamp exam findings, for example. On the other hand, a scribe would input the information instead. Therefore, one thing to consider is the level of adjustment that may need to be made during your exam. Dictating an exam, therefore, could proceed differently than expected.
Make your business a success
Having a scribe can alleviate many EHR documentation burdens, as they can update EHR records. For optometrists in Oklahoma City, or elsewhere, there will be advantages and disadvantages when hiring a new staff member. But the benefits — having accurate and compliant medical records as well as patient satisfaction — far outweigh the costs, training, and possibility of clinical change. For more information on how a scribe can benefit your OD practice, as well as other information regarding legislation and helpful newsletters, contact Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma today.