Virtual ‘scribes’ help doctors focus on patients, not note-taking

REVERE — Dr. Amy Wheeler set a small tablet computer on the table as she turned to face her patient. Then she did something that’s become increasingly rare for doctors in the digital age: She talked to him without typing or clicking anything.

Wheeler didn’t have to take notes, because the microphone on her tablet recorded everything. While she slept that night, a trained doctor working in an office building across the world in Mumbai listened to the recording and typed up a summary.

Patient documentation is a critical but tedious task for physicians, part of the mounting administrative burden that is driving many to exhaustion and burnout. Hospitals and physician groups are testing new strategies to alleviate that burden and free up harried doctors for other tasks — including seeing more patients.

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