For a study, researchers sought to assess whether using Virtual scribe services (VSS) might reduce the time an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon spends on documentation compared to traditional post-encounter dictation (TD) without compromising the patient experience. Before the physician-patient encounter, 50 patients presenting for the first time to a single orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon were prospectively enrolled and randomized to VSS or TD. The time spent with the patient in the examination room and the time spent away from the patient documenting were noted. A post-visit survey evaluated patient satisfaction, physician empathy, plan comprehension, and perceptions of the time spent with the physician. About 25 out of 50 recruited patients were assigned to VSS. Duration spent documenting away from the patient differed considerably between VSS and TD (1.2±0.7 minutes for VSS versus 5.8± 1.7 minutes for TD, P<.001), as did time between the completion of the visit and the beginning of dictation (0±0 for VSS versus 118.2±72.7 minutes for TD, P<.001). The VSS group tended to spend more time with the patient than the TD group (14.2±5.9 minutes for VSS versus 11.4± 5.1 minutes for TD, P=.069). There were no changes in survey responses on satisfaction, empathy, understanding, or perception of sufficient time spent with the physician between groups (P>.05 for each). Utilizing a VSS in an orthopedic foot and ankle practice greatly reduced documentation time and enabled paperwork to be completed during patient visits without affecting quality metrics. VSS was a HIPAA-compliant documentation option for orthopedic surgeons, offering time savings and no discernible change in patient satisfaction.

Source:journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1938640020950544