Telemedicine and the Role of EMR Transcription

TelemedicineTelemedicine that allows physicians to see patients and communicate with them in real time is an effective solution for reducing unnecessary and expensive emergency room (ER) visits. It is a significant fact that most of the costly ER visits are for minor medical conditions that can be diagnosed and treated virtually. Remote consultation facility is not to replace the emergency department (ED) or the patient’s primary care physician office, but to treat minor medical conditions (for example, sinusitis, allergies, sports injuries) that do not require a visit to the ED or urgent care center. Before exploring the role of EMR transcription in telemedicine, let’s take a look at the significance of telemedicine in emergency care.

With videoconferencing units, telemedicine connects patients and their family members residing in remote locations to emergency physicians. Here are the major benefits of this option.

  • At the time of an emergency, patients need not spend time traveling long distances or pay for the traveling expenses to a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. They can directly communicate with the emergency department.
  • Supports staffs in making quick decisions regarding emergency stabilization and transport.
  • Improved communication between referring and accepting emergency personnel so that ER physicians who are experienced in trauma and other critical situations can be immediately involved in the care of patients.

Telemedicine and EMR Transcription

Telemedicine or remote consultation details have to be documented accurately. Documentation of clinically relevant aspects of the patient encounter facilitates improved communication with other providers, and coordination of follow-up care. An integrated electronic medical record (EMR) system can help in ensuring effective documentation of all clinical reports.

With standard point-and-click templates, physicians can enter patient health data into the computer by clicking on the appropriate clinical terms from the available choices and the ED records will be readily available throughout the remote care. Quick and easy access to ED records enhances the quality of care and cuts down the operational costs at the same time. Records of e-visit kept in electronic format can be sent to the specialists (if necessary) at distant places quickly as well. However, the electronic record system has the following challenges.

  • The templates and drop-down menus may not be able to contain all the necessary information regarding the patient encounter or patient care. Physicians may want to record the entire clinical narrative since that’s where they document their medical decision making.
  • In telemedicine, the practice of engaging the patients fully, listening to their problems carefully and closely watching their body language is quite essential for proper diagnosis and creating trust. When physicians are involved in finding the right templates and relevant EMR fields, they won’t get enough time for that. The speech recognition system integrated with EMR may not be accurate all the time as the system can’t recognize spelling and grammar.
  • While documenting necessary details, physicians may frequently copy-paste data without checking the whole data in an effort to save valuable time. If there is a minor mistake in the data, this will be reflected in all the records and make the entire system erratic.

A combined approach using both EMR and transcription is thus relevant in telemedicine. In this approach, physicians can dictate their findings and other information related to emergency care which is transcribed by trained transcriptionists in a medical transcription company. The completed transcripts will be sent to the provider’s EMR via a secure HL-7 interface.