January 1, 2022

    Move Beyond Scribes to Automatically Document Care

    As clinical documentation demands have increased, so have frustration and burnout among medical staff. On average, physicians spend twice as much time documenting care as they do delivering it. Medical scribe programs may offer some initial relief, but to really alleviate this burden, organizations are turning toward less intrusive, more sophisticated solutions that scale to their needs and operate within their workflows.

    The use of medical scribes originated and accelerated a decade ago, mainly due to the HITECH Act, which mandated the use of electronic health records. Since then, AI technology has advanced to the point where it can replace medical scribes and do much more, such as automatically document care and scale across healthcare organizations.



    Why AI surpasses medical scribes

    Healthcare organizations are reassessing their scribe programs and embracing innovative solutions that do much more than create clinical documentation because scribes aren’t scalable and technology doesn’t take days off, get sick, or leave after a short period of time. For example, Ambient Clinical Intelligence (ACI) solutions automatically and unobtrusively capture the physician/patient conversation at the point of care. But it’s more than just listening and converting speech to text. It’s contextualizing conversations, understanding intent, producing accurate documentation with consistency and efficiency, extracting information from the EHR, and performing tasks such as ordering labs and meds with voice.

    This technology far surpasses what you can achieve with scribes. Scribe programs are unable to scale in larger organizations—you need a scribe for each physician and scribes can only be used for certain specialties. There’s no formal training or licensure for scribes. In fact, 44% of scribes have no prior training, which leads to inconsistent documentation and increases administrative overload and burnout as physicians need to constantly review notes. Scribe programs also face constant churn, which necessitates retraining to onboard new scribes.

    Clinical documentation that writes itself

    ACI solutions are an alternative to scribe programs and all the associated hassle. Typically, they include a mobile app that captures the natural conversation of the patient and physician and converts it into a clinical note. Some solutions are tailored to each specialty and adhere to established documentation standards, reducing the burden of compliance expertise and enabling appropriate coding. What’s more, ACI solutions scale and can be used for telehealth and in-person visits.

    The benefits realized with ACI solutions are enhanced quality of care and patient experience, increased physician efficiency and satisfaction, and improved financial outcomes.

    Improve the patient experience

    A poor patient experience can lead to low patient satisfaction. A good patient experience can lead to high patient satisfaction. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the patient experience encompasses the range of interactions patients have with the healthcare system and includes several aspects of healthcare delivery, such as timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with healthcare professionals. At the same time, patient satisfaction is about whether a patient’s expectations for a health encounter were met.

    This all begs the question: How can one improve the patient experience and satisfaction?

    A good patient experience includes the ability to obtain a timely appointment, friendly and professional interactions with staff, and good communication with and trust in the physician. But we know that this ideal isn’t always the case. It takes too long to get an appointment, the staff is hurried, and clinicians are looking at their computers more than their patients. Many times, medical scribes are also involved.

    According to the American Medical Association, more than half of physicians are burned out and spend two hours on administrative work for every hour of direct patient care. This directly impacts the patient experience as physicians are scrambling to get to their next patient and document care in between patients or after hours. Patients are sitting in waiting rooms and then, when they are seen, the physician is often talking and typing at the same time, unable to focus on them, which hinders communication and trust and is not ideal for patients or physicians.

    With the right technologies that enable more face time, such as ACI solutions, physicians can deliver high-quality healthcare experiences, and patients can get the healthcare experience they need and deserve.

    Boost physician satisfaction

    Physician burnout has become a $4.6-billion-a-year problem, resulting in patient and clinician churn and a growing physician shortage due to those leaving the profession, spurring a physician hiring competition. And burnout is on the rise—64% of U.S. physicians say burnout has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    ACI solutions reduce feelings of burnout by decreasing time spent on care documentation and enabling physicians to practice at the top of their license.

    Increase operational efficiency

    While scribes can take notes and give them to a physician, the physician must still input the information into the EHR, and documentation quality can be inconsistent.

    With ACI, documentation is created automatically, efficiently, and consistently. These solutions reduce documentation time by 50% or more. With that time savings, physicians can choose to add more appointments per day or spend the time on leisure.


    Why settle for a subpar solution when there are new, innovative methods that do what you need to do better? Medical scribes don’t scale, they have high turnover rates, and many don’t have prior experience. ACI solutions improve the patient experience and physician satisfaction. They increase operational efficiencies and have proven outcomes. Healthcare organizations across the country are replacing their scribe programs with ACI. One such organization is Thomas Eye Group. Watch the short video to hear how Thomas Eye Group is embracing innovative technologies to achieve their goals.


    Nuance Communications is a technology pioneer with market leadership in conversational AI and ambient intelligence. A full-service partner trusted by 77 percent of U.S. hospitals and 85 percent of the Fortune 100 companies worldwide, Nuance creates intuitive solutions that amplify people's ability to help others.