Virtual Medical Scribes in Healthcare: The Rise of AI

June 13, 2024 virtual medical scribes in healthcare and the rise of AI. Blue microphone icon with AI rising in the background

By many measures, Americans in 2024 live in the best of medical worlds. With remarkable advances in drug development, patient communications, exchange of medical information, data analytics, and genetic and personalized medicine, the odds of living a long, healthy life have never been better.

However, translating scientific advances into better health depends upon ensuring that the needs of healthcare providers are met. Healthcare providers today face many challenges, chief among them a projected shortage of doctors and rising risks of burnout.

While there are many strategies that can help, one is worth noting: Medical scribes. To be more specific, a new generation of virtual medical scribes that take advantage of the remarkable power of artificial intelligence, never tire, and — unlike their human counterparts — rarely make mistakes and never take coffee breaks.

And among the virtual medical scribes on the market today, one — — is leading the way to a faster and better world of medical documentation.

Why Today’s Doctors Need Some AI-Powered Help

Regardless of their specialty or how many years they have been in practice, every physician knows one thing for sure — they work a lot of hours.

According to this 2023 study in Becker’s Hospital Review, physicians across all specialties spend, on average, 15.5 hours per week on paperwork and administration, including nine hours just on documentation in their Electronic Health Record (EHR).

Doctor leaning over stack of papers

What Is a Virtual Medical Scribe?

Administrative and documentation work is, of course, an important part of any physician’s job, but imagine for a moment how different the world of medicine would be if healthcare providers could focus a much greater percentage of their work week on delivering care directly to their patients.

Traditionally, many medical practices have turned to human scribes to assist their providers with documentation of patient visits. Human beings will always occupy vital roles in healthcare, but when it comes to scribing tasks, medical note taking, and the like, the machines have caught up.

Traditionally, medical scribes were human beings working in a physician’s office to complete documentation, while the term virtual medical scribe was used to describe such a person who might do that work remotely, even from overseas.

But is redefining the name of the dictation game with AI-powered virtual medical scribes — essentially an electronic version of the traditional human medical scribe. Sunoh is helping to create a new world of medicine in which providers:

  • Spend more of the precious time in the patient encounter listening to the patient and having an in-depth conversation — even picking up on the patient’s body language and feelings — rather than looking at a keyboard and computer screen.
  • Needn’t worry that they have missed some key point that arises during the patient encounter, since they have an accurate transcript and draft Progress Note ready for their review very soon after the encounter ends.
  • Complete their review of documentation at the office, enabling them to reduce the risks of burnout, restore work/life balance, and spend more quality time with their families or themselves — all of which can make them better physicians.

What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Using a Virtual Medical Scribe?

Some physicians may hesitate to adopt an AI-powered virtual medical scribe out of concerns over cost, the potential learning curve, the accuracy of the documentation, patient safety, or applicability to their particular area of medicine.

To understand why Sunoh satisfies such concerns, we look first at the fundamental challenge involved in any medical scribe — accuracy.

A great human scribe has extensive training in medical terminology, a good ear, is attentive to the subtleties of a physician/patient conversation and is unlikely to make major mistakes.

But humans are also fallible, are subject to lapses in attention, may have unconscious biases, and must be paid a lot more than a machine.

AI-powered virtual medical scribes are also imperfect, but always pay attention, never grow tired, and are much cheaper than humans. Further, thanks to the remarkable advances in voice-recognition technology and the vast amount of training data used to develop virtual scribes, they are now extremely accurate.

Why Is a Market Leader

Sunoh’s AI-powered, virtual medical scribe solution has emerged as a market leader because it offers an ambient listening technology that creates an immersive experience for providers and patients — and it does so for a low cost.

  • Sunoh’s ambient listening technology captures the clinical details of each encounter with a high degree of accuracy, allowing providers to conduct their conversations in a natural manner.
  • Sunoh is able to recognize and accurately transcribe a wide range of speaking styles and accents — and work is ongoing to expand its use for languages other than English.
  • Many practices report that Sunoh is saving them up to two hours of documentation time per provider per day. virtual medical scribe

In addition to accuracy and cost, patient safety is a key consideration in any area of medicine. Here again, Sunoh meets the standard.

All practices, whether they use human or virtual scribes, routinely insist that a clinician give a draft Progress Note the final review before it becomes part of a patient’s record. The same is true with Sunoh. Providers must remain the final judge of clinical evaluations.

But because Sunoh produces such highly accurate drafts to begin with, providers are able to focus their full attention on that critical final review, approving the Progress Note and moving seamlessly into formulating treatment plans and follow-up care.

What Medical Disciplines Use Virtual Scribes?

The short answer to the question of which medical disciplines can effectively use AI-powered medical scribes is: All of them. While such scribes, like their human forerunners, are most commonly found in internal medicine, pediatrics, family practice, and emergency medicine, they are also used in other specialties, from optometry and podiatry to oncology and neurology.

dental provider caring for a patient with a hygienist
  • South Shore Family Practice of Marquette, Michigan is saving one to two hours a day on documentation. Annie Reinertsen, owner, said that Sunoh is great for managing acute care visits, allowing her to see more patients in the same amount of time. The practice plans to use the mobile application for visits with patients in their homes and nursing homes.
  • Regional Medical Associates of Delaware, a multidisciplinary practice that offers comprehensive and interventional pain management and spinal care services, reports that after implementing Sunoh they are saving 90 percent of the time formerly needed for a simple follow-up appointment, and 60 to 70 percent of the time needed for new patient visits.
  • Texas-based Odessa General Surgery Robotics specializes in procedures involving small incisions using advanced laparoscopic or robotic surgery tools and techniques. “We’re keen on enhancing clinical efficiency, and we’re confident that these AI functionalities will help us achieve that goal,” says Dr. Judith Birungi, general surgeon at Odessa.

What Are the Qualifications and Skills of a Virtual Medical Scribe?

As is clear from the wide variety of practices that employ medical scribes, they must — whether human or virtual — possess a combination of technical expertise and soft skills.

Conventional wisdom suggests human scribes can achieve both but should retain a soft skills edge over virtual scribes, which the latter should be faster and more technically accurate in many respects.

That wisdom may have held for many years, but advances in AI mean are forcing practices to “check their math” when it comes to choosing between human and virtual scribes.

Sunoh — trained to recognize complex medical terminology and assemble a draft Progress Note that places clinically relevant information into the correct place in the Note — has closed whatever gap once existed.

But that doesn’t mean humans have lost their place in the medical office. In fact, human beings must remain closely connected with the documentation process. It is vital that clinicians review all draft Progress Notes to ensure that Sunoh — or any other virtual or human scribe — has not misinterpreted the facts of a case or offered false or misleading information.

Virtual scribes, after all, cannot do things that only humans can go: Exhibit a passion for healthcare, empathize with patients, and explain to the patients how and why a particular course of treatment should be adopted and what to expect.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sunoh accurate?

Yes. Thanks to advanced natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, Sunoh’s draft Progress Notes are highly accurate.

Can Sunoh recognize different accents and dialects?

Yes. Sunoh’s ability to recognize accents and dialects makes it accessible to a wide range of providers.

Is Sunoh HIPAA compliant?

Sunoh uses industry-standard encryption and security protocols to protect all patient data. However, no hardware or software by itself is HIPAA-compliant. Users must follow their obligations for safe and compliant use.

Is Sunoh Medical AI Scribe for mobile devices also, or is it only accessible on desktop computers?

Sunoh medical AI scribe is for desktop computers, iOS, and Android through an app.

Are there any tips for optimal use of Sunoh?

For best results, position yourself near the microphone, minimize background noise, and speak clearly and enunciate. These steps can help Sunoh create an accurate transcript and ensure that relevant information is captured.

What’s the Future of Healthcare Virtual Scribes?

The COVID-19 pandemic gave new prominence to several longstanding aspects of healthcare that had often been in the background, including the use of telehealth for virtual visits and scribes for speeding documentation.

Such phenomena share a common trait: Extending the power of physicians at a time when studies such as this March 2024 paper from the Association of American Medical Colleges, suggest there will be shortages of all kinds of providers over the next few decades. virtual medical scribe in specialties, eye doctor taking care of patient

Four years ago, a report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine concluded that scribes has a clear if modest role to play in medicine.

Sunoh is proof that that role is no longer modest. Scribes — and virtual scribes in particular — are expanding exponentially and assuming a central role in helping today’s busy medical practices meet the demands of daily documentation.

Next Steps

Investments in AI have expanded dramatically in just the last year, with applications of AI now found in healthcare, finance, manufacturing, retail, energy, education, agriculture, and just about any other field one can name.

Because it offers a combination of accuracy, ease of use, and low cost that cannot be matched by either human scribes or any other virtual solution on the market, is gaining a leading market position.

Some healthcare providers may have worried in the past that AI would take their jobs away. That is clearly not going to happen. Doctors are more needed than ever before. The real concern today is that if they don’t take advantage of AI-powered medical scribe solutions, they may find it difficult to deliver optimal care to their patients.

Fortunately, there’s no reason to wait. Getting started with is fast, simple, and cost effective, regardless of your practice specialty, size, or which EHR you use.

To learn more and request a demo, visit

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