Is your practice like a busy Emergency Department (minus the blood)?
In November 2018 writing in The New Yorker magazine, Atul Guwande a Harvard Surgeon and Author identified a disturbing phenomenon.
As medical records have become electronic, doctors’ workloads have increased and their morale has fallen.
The article was recently taken up in Radio National’s “Health Report” programme;
Some of the statistics outlined in the programme were shocking. For example, did you know that Doctors in emergency departments;
- Spend more than 50% of their time entering data
- Of the remaining 50% a large percentage is spent looking up information, completing forms, ordering tests, ordering medication, arranging hospital beds.
- Spend on average 5-8 minutes an hour talking to patients
- Suffer chronic stress exacerbated by the fear of keeping patients waiting.
- In an effort to get through as many patients as possible, commonly save up their file notes and administrative tasks to the end of their shifts meaning that they are often still at work many hours after they should be at home.
In an effort to deal with this completely unsatisfactory situation, 4 Victorian Emergency departments; Dandenong, Monash Childrens, Bendigo and Cabrini have taken part in a trial of Medical Scribes.
The idea is a pretty simple one. Medical Students are specially trained as Medical Scribes and assigned to a doctor for their entire shift. They operate as mobile administrative assistants and perform virtually all of the administrative tasks usually performed by the doctor including; medical notes, completing forms, ordering tests, arranging beds etc.
The results of the study are in and they make for exciting reading. Specifically, it was found that the use of Medical Scribes resulted in;
- Doctors seeing 25% more patients per shift.
- Patients waiting an average of 19 minutes less to see a doctor.
- Increased profit (in the study each of the hospitals was public or not-for-profit so this was expressed as improved cost effectiveness)
- More doctors going home on time with subsequent reduction in stress.
- Paid, meaningful work for the scribes while at the same time providing them with an unmatched training opportunity.
- Patient feedback that was either positive or ambivalent i.e. “didn’t really notice they were there”
One of the great things about being self-employed is the freedom to try new things – you don’t need to ask permission.
Like our recent story about a barber working with an assistant innovative managers of emergency departments are shaking up the way things have been traditionally done and seeing great rewards for doctors, patients and their bottom line.
What could you shake up in your practice? For example, could you consider;
- Outsourcing (domestic and/or overseas)
- Adoption of modern, easy-to-use voice to text technology to streamline file notes
- Recruitment of 2nd and 3rd year accounting, commerce or finance undergraduates as “Commercial Scribes”
- A review of role descriptions and procedures. Are they still relevant or is there now a better way?
If you can find a better way your clients, staff, accountant and family will all thank you.
Phil Little is an accomplished entrepreneur, insightful strategist and a Business coach of Slipstream Coaching, a company dedicated to assisting financial practitioners achieve their full potential. Phil can be contacted by phone 07 3221 3796 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org