GREENFIELD — As the health-care industry continues to move to more paperless record-keeping, physicians are finding drawbacks to the modernization.
Physicians want to focus on caring for their patients, but Medicare and Medicaid requirements enforce a level of rigor that has doctors transcribing and editing their notes for hours after seeing their last patients of the day, said Rob Matt, CEO of Hancock Physician Network. Now, the network is running two pilot programs aimed at helping doctors spend more time with patients and less time digitizing their daily records.
The first pilot program pairs a scribe with a physician to take the responsibility for accurate note-taking off the doctor’s shoulders; the second uses an app to listen and transcribe what the physician is saying.
One physician, a cardiologist, is currently working with a transcriber who captures the conversation between doctor and patient and enters it into the electronic record, Matt said.
While this setup is more ideal, since a human transcriber can more accurately capture the conversation than an app, it is difficult to find qualified people for the job, he said.
So, five physicians are testing an app called Saykara, which uses AI technology to listen to the conversations and transcribe them. Doctors are then able to edit the digital records later.
Matt compared Saykara to Siri or Alexa, programs that learn as users interact with them.
Brian Muckerheide, Hancock Physician Network’s chief operating officer, said the app requires a bit more work on the front end, since physicians have to teach the software how they speak. The software also has to learn certain medical terminology as it’s spoken by the doctors.
“Over time, we expect the quality to improve,” he said. “They will spend less time editing on the back end.”
The move to digital record keeping is not new, but it is presenting increasing challenges.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set new regulations, requiring health-care providers to move to electronic records in an attempt to “improve the quality and efficiency of clinical care and to help the nation overcome the fragmented nature of the health-care system,” according to a 2010 article in Public Health Reports, a peer-reviewed journal associated with the U.S. Public Health Service.
One aspect of the law requires physicians to show meaningful use of electronic health records that are accessible by multiple doctors’ offices in order to maintain Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.