Accuracy is everything in medical practices of all specializations because one wrong patient information can result in unwanted results that jeopardize the patient and, ultimately, the practice itself. Thankfully, medical scribes help ensure that all information exchanged during patient encounters is accurate. However, there’s more to being a medical scribe than just promoting accuracy because one cannot just show up to the practice and claim the role. To maximize medical scribes, practice managers and decision-makers must understand the role better, including the different types.
While most people are familiar with medical scribes, only some know the work setups that define their job titles, which are in-office and virtual medical scribes. Undeniably, practices are more accustomed to an in-office medical scribe because working in an office is generally considered the norm. However, their virtual counterpart has increased in demand over the last few years in response to the comprehensive implementation of telehealth.
Despite their differences, both serve the same purpose of maintaining the practice’s accuracy and promoting its credibility, so which should practices integrate into their existing team members?
In-person or virtual medical scribes?
As the job title suggests, in-person medical scribes are staff members who work within the practice’s physical location, while virtual medical scribes can “virtually” be anywhere in the world. Despite working remotely, virtual medical scribes can accomplish the same tasks as in-person medical scribes, but with distinctions that set both apart.
The most jarring difference between the two is how much practices need to pay for their service. On average, an in-person medical scribe’s salary  can range between $31,089 and $41,057 – that means practices need to allot more or less $3,000 every month, on top of the usual job benefits. On the other hand, virtual medical scribes are more cost-efficient because, for the same type of service, they only cost a fraction of what practices need to pay in-person medical scribes. Moreover, practices can save up to 70% by opting for a virtual medical scribe instead of an in-person one.
One of the primary advantages that people associate with in-person medical scribes is that they are easier to manage since they fulfill their tasks in the same place. They can be seen clocking in and out, interacting with other staff members in the practice, and are almost always within the visual field of the practice manager or decision-maker. However, that doesn’t mean virtual medical scribes are more challenging to manage.
Integrating virtual medical scribes into existing in-person staff members can come with a learning curve because not all practices are used to working with virtual talent. However, such a learning curve shouldn’t intimidate practice managers and decision-makers from choosing virtual medical scribes because they have exclusive advantages.
Despite sharing the same job scope, virtual medical scribes have the edge over their in-person counterpart because they work remotely, making them self-starters who provide their own equipment and workspace. This helps practices save even more money because practice managers and decision-makers don’t have to deal with costs related to acquiring and maintaining such assets.
Furthermore, virtual medical scribes are often independent individuals who know the competition in their market is strong, so they are more likely to deliver more than expected with minimal supervision. They are also fast learners who can get a firmer grasp of the practice’s existing systems, minimizing the time practice managers and decision-makers need to train them.
Additionally, managing virtual scribes can often be more straightforward. Why? More often than not, virtual medical scribes are affiliated with virtual assistant companies that assign them to a dedicated industry manager who will monitor their performance and coach them to become a better fit for the practice they work with. Because of this, practice managers and decision-makers can choose to be more passive when managing them and focus on maximizing their skills and expertise.
In terms of payroll, practices would need to actively process the payment for in-office staff because the individual works directly with them. Payroll can be time-consuming and tedious. To avoid all the trouble of handling it, practice managers and decision-makers can opt for virtual medical scribes because the virtual assistant company they are affiliated with makes all the necessary arrangements to get them paid.
Ultimately, virtual medical scribes help practices ease their workload and gain more time to focus on critical tasks, all without compromising their overall productivity.
Medical scribe job description
A simple Google search of “what is a medical scribe” will often tell practices the basics of what the role is and the purpose it aims to serve. However, there’s more to the role than just constantly listening to patient encounters and accurately jotting down essential information.
For medical scribes to perform their tasks, they need to be familiar and keep up with medical industry terminology to make out conversations that mention new terms or jargon. Aside from that, medical scribes use computer hardware and software when they listen to audio recordings, navigate through an EMR system, and encode transcriptions. They also retrieve information on behalf of the doctor to prepare for upcoming appointments.
In essence, medical scribes promote the efficiency of patient encounters so that providers can focus more on rendering treatment rather than spending a lot of time on clerical tasks.
Qualities of a good medical scribe
Practices need to understand better how to become a medical scribe so they can identify the makings of one and find the best possible talent for the job. To lay the foundation, a person who wants to claim the role must be medically inclined, whether through college education or work experience. Regardless of their specialization, medical practices are technical and fast-paced, so the person should have the aptitude to keep up with everything.
Patient appointments exist to establish a strict schedule, and the encounters themselves can tackle crucial matters quickly, so medical scribes need to be able to work in such high-pressure situations and have fast typing speeds. Moreover, they must take the initiative to actively look out for and educate themselves on medical industry trends to understand patient-doctor conversations that may mention “trendy” terminologies.
Most importantly, medical scribes should be effective communicators because they are bound to collaborate heavily with the providers and the rest of the practice’s staff members. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and working together to provide the best possible care to patients.
Where to post and find medical scribe jobs
Whether the practice prefers an in-person or virtual medical scribe, they have more than a few options on where they can find people who are qualified for the role but have unique traits that could make them a better fit:
Online Job Sites
In the past, job seekers would turn to the classifieds page of newspapers to find open positions they may or may not be the best fit for. Nowadays, practically everything is on the internet, even available job roles. Probably the website that most people would consider the “default job site” is LinkedIn, a social media platform that is geared towards businesses and professionals in various industries. Practice managers or decision-makers can create a LinkedIn profile, put up a job post containing all the necessary details, and wait for job applicants to send their cover letters and resume.
Practices can also opt for either Fiverr or UpWork, two alternative websites that, unlike how LinkedIn connects practices to both in-person and virtual medical scribes, these two are more focused on freelancers who exclusively work on a remote basis. Similarly, practices can set up an account, create a job posting, and wait for freelancers to submit applications.
The good thing about using online job sites is flexibility – practices have a lot of agency about the recruitment process, such as how many phases there will be, how exhaustive the screening process will be, and how many applications are welcome. However, it is also because of this flexibility that online job sites are risky.
When opting for online job sites, the onus of recruitment and everything related to it is on the practice, including protecting itself from applicants with malicious intent. Ideally, practices should be able to find, and onboard reliable talent from LinkedIn, Fiverr, or UpWork, but here is also a risk of subjecting the practice to a HIPAA violation if they unknowingly hire someone whose goal is to sell sensitive information.
Virtual Assistant Companies
In recent years, companies that provide practices with virtual medical assistants have seen an increase in demand. Virtual medical assistants are remote healthcare professionals who fill in various designations, including medical scribes.
Unlike online job sites, virtual assistant companies give practices access to job seekers without the unnecessary risk of subjecting themselves to HIPAA breaches. In addition, these companies perform much of the usual recruitment efforts on behalf of the practice, including screening hundreds of applicants, filtering out applications that don’t satisfy the job requirements, negotiating the talent’s salary, and drafting legal documents.
As a result, practices are presented with highly vetted, trained, and experienced candidates that they can choose to onboard at their earliest convenience.
My Mountain Mover is a virtual assistant company that connects virtual talent from the Philippines and practices in the US. Because we receive thousands of applications, we follow a vetting process that narrows our talent pool down to the top 2% of virtual assistants, all of whom embody our company’s quality and care.
Want to learn more about how we can help take your practice to new heights? Book a 10-minute intro call with us today!