UW Health and AQuity Partnership

UW Health and AQuity partnered to decrease documentation burden and burnout among primary and specialty care physicians by implementing a virtual scribe program.

Program Goals

  • Reduce burnout and time spent in the EHR for a group of 100 primary and specialty care physicians

Organizational Outcomes

  • 98% of surveyed participants would recommend a virtual scribe to their colleagues.
  • 88% of surveyed participants felt their after-hours documentation was reduced.
  • 28% increase in agreement that ongoing EHR education is helpful among AQuity users between measurements.

Keys to Success

  • Establishing primary and secondary virtual scribes allows for physicians to always have a scribe when needed during a patient visit.
  • Building relationships is key to the long-term success of a virtual scribe program.

What University of Wisconsin Health and AQuity Did


Some of the top contributors to burnout are found to be related to the administrative burden inherent with the electronic health record. UW Health decided to add virtual scribes to a group of 100 primary and specialty care physicians to decrease burnout levels, improve documentation, and ultimately, improve how clinicians engage with patients during a care visit.


Deployment of the scribe program focused on 100 clinicians to validate the efficacy of the program and to demonstrate the strength (or weakness) of virtual scribes over other documentation resources at UW Health. UW Health selected primary and specialty care physicians to receive the virtual scribes and initially required that they add one patient/session to fund the virtual scribe effort and other wellness initiatives at UW Health. This request was later removed, but over half of the participants indicated that it was easy for them to add the extra session with the help of a virtual scribe.


Providers in the program are matched with a scribe from AQuity based on specialty, work schedule, and workflow style preferences. Providers only work with one to two different scribes per month. This consistency allows UW Health providers to develop a relationship with their scribes and optimize workflow efficiencies. While turnover is often a concern (as many scribes are pre-med students) AQuity’s virtual model allows for scribes to continue working in a variety of circumstances and the approach to have primary and secondary scribes creates a safety net so physicians never have to worry about a scribe not knowing the specialty or unique workflows of the provider. Primary scribes typically work with a provider for 90% of their encounters, with a secondary scribe covering when the primary scribe takes a day off. Scribes are used for the majority of patient encounters, leaving little to be done after a clinician is finished seeing a patient to complete and sign off documents. Virtual scribes also help with pre-charting and the in-basket messages, leading to much lower total time spent in the EHR.


In addition to measuring the success of the program with the Arch Collaborative, UW Health surveyed participants regarding their symptoms of burnout and satisfaction with their virtual scribes and measured how clinicians perceived their after-hours work time change. Even with the measurements being conducted during COVID-19, a vast majority of those surveyed reported reduced burnout symptoms, 88% felt satisfied with their virtual scribe and felt their documentation burdens had been decreased during clinic hours and 88% felt their after-hours documentation was reduced. 98% of surveyed participants would recommend a virtual scribe to their colleagues. More than half of the scribe supported physicians indicated it was easy for them to add extra patients per shift due to their scribe support.


AQuity Communications

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