Medical transcriptionist, dictation, or medical scribes? There’s some confusion in the industry on what each of these categories of EHR documentation specialties mean. It’s not uncommon that we’d speak to a doctor about what we do, and we’d be told “oh I use a transcription service for that.” And with the proliferation of natural language processing engines and “A.I.” driven solutions in the healthcare industry, there are a plethora of dictation services vying for the wallet of a medical practice or healthcare organization.
We’re here to offer you some glimpse into each specialty, the pluses and minuses of each solution, and why we still think an in-person medical scribe is the BEST solution for the majority of physicians seeking to alleviate EHR documentation burden.
The asynchronous transcription type services are at the end of its useful lifecycle as EHR continue to evolve and increase in complexity, and real-time health data are becoming more of an important driver in today’s value-based care systems.
Transcription as a service can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th Century, nearly as long as the first standardized medical history/records were becoming common practices in hospitals and ambulatory settings. The general practice involves taking an audio recording of the patient encounter and “transcribing” it to a written record on paper.
While the practice itself is what we’d considered “as old as time,” technology has evolved over time to allow the practice of manually transcribing a doctor’s note to speed up, from the use of stenographs to mechanical type writers, to computers and word processing software. With the “advancement” and evolution of EHR, most transcription services have included data entry into electronic medical records as early as towards the latter half of the 20th Century.
A transcription is what we’d considered “asynchronous” medical data recording, since it typically involves an audio recording being typed and transcribed into the EHR separately from the actual patient encounter. Typically a transcriptionist would work off-site, during hours convenient to the transcriptionist, either in the evening or the day after the patient encounter. Today the audio recording is typically delivered via a HIPAA compliant network with the transcriptionist granted access remotely to a healthcare organization’s EHR, with charts updated hours after the actual recording of the patient encounter.
Typically a medical transcriptionist do not have significant medical training or background in the healthcare industry, while the job itself is considered an allied health profession, it is never patient facing nor does it require extensive training.
Meanwhile, we’ve been promised that AI and machine learning is going to make human based data entry a thing of the past, but as we’ve all seen, machines still haven’t completely assisted and automated the mundane part of our daily lives.
While medical transcription as a service has been available for doctors and physicians for nearly a century, Artificial Intelligence driven, natural language processing dictation has only been around for around two decades. With the advent of computer technology, faster processing, and neural engines enabling nearly real-time, on the fly processing of spoken language, dictation software has quickly caught up to human transcriptionist and started to surpass and supplant the use of audio recordings and manual transcription.
Comparing natural language processing based dictation to manual transcription, it is clear that AI driven remote charting is a far less mature method, despite the advances made in the recent decades. We’ve all seen how frustrating it could be to ask Siri or Alexa to do simple tasks on a phone or digital assistant device. Since every individual doctor talks differently, at different speed, with different accent and intonation, most machine learning natural language processing AIs take time to “learn” what comes naturally for most of us humans.
Like transcription, natural language processing happens away from the physical patient encounter. Real-time nature of the service means you can review, edit, and approve the entries into the EHR sooner rather than later, the uncertainty of a remote encounter as entered by a computer trying to parse the spoken human language still require significant amount of intervention and interaction by the physician.
As technology improve and healthcare evolve, we continue to evolve the medical scribe model. We see scribing as an essential, allied health cog in the overall process to provide improved patient care, but we provide the tools necessary to help you improve the consistency, efficiency, and quality of medical scribes.
If you read our blog article about the modern medical scribe model, you’ll know that we don’t think medical scribes are the perfect end-all, be-all solution to alleviating the EHR documentation burden. Far from it, as providers of full-service, turn-key medical scribe solutions we know there are different, better, and more efficient ways to EHR documentation to supplement your scribing program.
However, we do find medical scribes to be nearly universally praised compared to the other two solutions. Where as the asynchronous nature of transcription services means you can’t review or approve your chart entries until hours or even days later, an in-person medical scribe enters your patient encounter as it happens. And a human scribe that can better understand the nuances and complexities of natural human speech will require less oversight, review, and edit thus producing more efficient and accurate charting overall.
And unlike machine learning based medical charting, medical scribing has been around for several decades and have really matured as an industry, while the constant evolving nature of tech in AI means your service may be obsolete in 6 month when a new and improved algorithm from a competing tech company means a new “app” on your phone to download and learn.
Right now? Clearly so. The asynchronous transcription type services are at the end of its useful lifecycle as EHR continue to evolve and increase in complexity, and real-time health data are becoming more of an important driver in today’s value-based care systems.
Meanwhile, we’ve been promised that AI and machine learning is going to make human based data entry a thing of the past, but as we’ve all seen, machines still haven’t completely assisted and automated the mundane part of our daily lives. Cars still don’t drive themselves. Smart appliances sometimes make our lives more complicated. And personal digital assistants are still a long way from being able to read our moods as opposed to telling a bunch of dumb jokes predicated on a pre-programmed logic.
At ScribeConnect we still see medical scribe as the superior solution to easing EHR documentation burden from a physician for the foreseeable future. As technology improve and healthcare evolve, we continue to evolve the medical scribe model. We see scribing as an essential, allied health cog in the overall process to provide improved patient care, but we provide the tools necessary to help you improve the consistency, efficiency, and quality of medical scribes.
If you’re interested in finding out how we can modernize your medical scribe program, let us know below.