Medical Transcription Software Elevates Telemedicine Practice — But At What Cost?

With much of the world relying heavily on telemedicine platforms for remote doctor visits, healthcare organizations have found themselves searching for innovative ways to insure a high-quality experience, while maintaining safety and security for patients and doctors alike. Medical transcription software has the power to elevate the current state of telemedicine and improve the doctor-patient experience. With many patients feeling isolated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, doctor-patient relationships are more important now than ever. Medical transcription software fosters a closer doctor-patient relationship, even through telemedicine.

The Doctor-Patient Relationship 

Previously, the relationship between patient and doctor was viewed as one between a healer and a person in need. However, over recent years, the relationship has morphed into more of an interaction between a care provider and a service user. According to an article ‘The Evolution of the Doctor-patient Relationship,” in optimizing this patient-centered approach, “critics have proposed a more active, autonomous and thus patient-centered role for the patient who advocates greater patient control, reduced physician dominance, and more mutual participation,” (Kaba R, Sooriakumaran P.).

Research has shown that the doctor-patient relationship is integral to treatment outcomes. According to an article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, the relationship has been shown to promote recovery, reduce relapse, and enhance treatment adherence. Now more than ever, as people feel the pangs of isolation due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, fostering genuine connection with patients is vital. Unfortunately, buffering, delays, and the lack of real face-to-face conversation all present inevitable challenges in building patient relationships and conducting effective appointments. If the interaction is marked by the clacking of a provider's vigorous note taking and chronic lack of eye contact, it's likely the patient will leave their appointment feeling unheard and uncared for.

As the current situation persists we must find ways to overcome these challenges so as to provide the best medical and inter-personal outcomes possible for our patients. As Arq Bras Cardiol wrote in Telemedicine and the Doctor/Patient Relationship “We should use the best of the two worlds: preserving humanism in medicine and using new technologies to improve medical care. This is possible; it only depends on some adjustments that are evidently possible". Medical transcription software, the process of transforming dictated medical notes into typed health records, frees physicians from obligatory note taking, giving them the ability to focus on their patients and build lasting connections.

Integration With EMRs — Where Transcription Software Falls Short

With electronic medical records, integrated messaging systems, and online booking, the medical technology landscape has taken on a whole new dimension. The purpose of these systems is to improve the efficiency and accuracy of patient record keeping and communication, while meeting compliance and billing requirements. Unfortunately, rather than simplifying, many healthcare providers feel that modern EHRs have added needless obstacles and complications to their daily practice, forcing them to spend a third of their time on administrative tasks which largely do not improve patient care. This has led to clinicians being forced to doggedly take notes during their time with patients only to allocate additional hours after these visits to entering data into EHRs.

Using voice recognition technology, medical transcription software is able to listen to a doctor’s summary of a patient visit, transcribe the dictation, and integrate with EHRs so that the transcribed notes are automatically populated into the system. These tools utilize advanced speech-to-text technology to convert audio recordings into a proper clinical document. However, dictation tools and  medical transcription services fall short of solving the documentation problem. Many clinicians find themselves spendings just as much time on documentation — summarizing sessions and dictating notes. Rather than alleviating doctors from the burden of note-taking, dictation tools and medical transcription services create more work in its place.

Though transcription software provides significant merit and vastly improves the doctor-patient experience by eliminating the provider's need to take notes, its benefits do not extend so far as to markedly reduce clinician workloads. Luckily medical technology is an ever-evolving field. Most recently, artificial intelligence has been introduced with the goal being to not only improve the doctor-patient relationship, but also to free physicians from the burden of documentation all together.

AI Scribes

To many providers, it may feel like too often new technology only further complicates their workflows — substituting one solution for the next, with only marginal improvements, if that. Today, however, the development of AI scribes represent a hopeful future for physicians.

AI scribes rely on many of the same tools mentioned above, but combine them in a way that fully automates clinical documentation. These web-based tools rely on voice and speech recognition to identify doctors and patients and produce highly accurate medical transcriptions. But, by using advanced AI software, machine learning, and natural language processing, these devices are able to take transcription to the next level. They can sift through and extract the medically relevant information in real time, produce a proper clinical document, and then upload it into the discrete fields of an electronic health record — all without any involvement on behalf of the patient or physician.

Unlike other solutionary approaches to medical documentation that often fall short, AI scribes are paving the way for a promising future. One where every physician will be able to focus intently on delivering care to their patients, all without sacrificing their personal well-being or work-life balance.

To learn more about AI Scribes click here.

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