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A Comparison of Physical Therapy AI Documentation Tools

Sarah Lara

Mar 29, 2024
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A Comprehensive Comparison of AI Documentation Tools for Physical Therapists

Clinical documentation is essential for physical therapists in providing the highest-quality care to patients. Proper clinical documentation enables the best possible outcomes for a patient’s treatment, as it allows visibility and tracking of a patient’s history, treatment, and progress towards recovery. As such, when creating documentation for physical therapy, it’s vital that it be not only accurate but also timely. 

Although it’s a necessity, patient documentation is also a leading cause of physical therapist burnout, according to EHR intelligence. In fact, another article by the Advisory Board states that healthcare professionals tend to spend 49.2% of their time on documentation instead of treating patients. More often than not, this substantial amount of time spent documenting leads to mistakes and further exacerbates burnout. 

Thankfully, there are a growing number of clinical documentation solutions on the market to assist physical therapists in documenting patient sessions. In this article, we discuss various documentation tools and compare them for your convenience.

Comparing Six AI Scribe Tools for Physical Therapists

Selecting the right documentation tool for your clinic can feel like a daunting task. To start, AI tools can be super confusing. Although many of them use the same marketing buzzwords, their actual functionality can differ dramatically. In addition, adopting a new documentation tool represents a big commitment, and you may find yourself living with the results of that decision for quite a while. Make the right decision, and your clinical team will love you for making their lives easier while improving the profitability of the clinic. Make the wrong decision, and you could find yourself on the receiving end of a lot of criticism related to added documentation burden, operational inefficiency, and decreased profitability - exactly what you were trying to address.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help you answer the following questions:

  • What criteria are important to consider as you evaluate the true value and effectiveness of each tool?
  • How do you accurately compare one tool relative to another?
  • How do you evaluate and choose the tool that’s the best fit for your clinic?

To start, here’s a high-level comparison of six different AI scribe tools to help you understand what differentiates all of the tools out there:

Cost of Physical Therapy AI Documentation Tools

Cost is arguably one of the biggest factors that clinics need to consider when choosing an AI documentation tool.  To understand a product’s true cost, it is crucial to consider the hidden and incremental costs that exist beyond the upfront monthly or annual fees. These added costs can be startup and cancellation fees, like those imposed by Dragon Medical One by Nuance®, for example, which requires an implementation fee of $525 before a practice can begin using it. Other hidden costs come in the form of required supplemental services, such as those touted as key features by Tapt Health, but which actually incur additional fees. While Tapt cites its ability to automatically transfer its created SOAP notes to your EMR, this is a misleading offering as this service is not actually included in its $99 monthly price but is instead an extra charge as it requires the aid of hired human scribes.

Beyond hidden costs, you must also consider the fine print of complicated and confusing contracts that can lead to unexpected costs. For example, ComprehendPT requires credit card information to sign up for a 7-day free trial. If a user forgets to cancel prior to the free trial concluding, they’re automatically charged $99 for their first paid month of use. 

At ScribePT, we believe in complete transparency of our product offerings and price—which is why we charge no hidden fees and don’t engage in any complicated pricing structures. Best of all, ScribePT offers the best price on the market, with a discounted $75 monthly price for users who sign an annual contract, while the lowest competitor discount for an annual contract is $91 per month.

On top of offering the best price for the product, ScribePT also offers the greatest value. ScribePT is the only tool on the market that offers true paste-to-EMR functionality. That means automatically populating a complete note directly into your EMR, including an instant selection of necessary dropdowns and checkboxes. As previously mentioned, not only do other competitors not include this in their core offering, but their add-on options that attempt to mimic this feature involve added costs and hours-long delays, as these services use human scribes. With ScribePT, our advanced AI ensures your entire note will be ready for your review in your EMR within minutes of your session ending and at no extra cost.

Ultimately, your selection of a documentation solution for your clinic can be the difference between a true reduction in time spent on notes and the associated burden on your clinicians and a further exacerbation of the problem. Be sure to evaluate what’s actually included in the base product of each solution, and ask yourself if it addresses all the features you’d need to make it valuable for your clinic. Always consider the additional fees associated that would make up your ideal product, and treat the total as your true cost of the minimum viable product before comparing it to others.

Added Value of Physical Therapy AI Tools

Added value is another factor to consider when choosing PT documentation tools for your clinic. You want a solution’s cost to match its value and exceed it by contributing to your profitability and operational efficiency. 

The most quantifiable method to assess the added value an AI tool delivers is by examining the time it saves. For instance, ScribePT can help PTs save more than 20 hours every month thanks to features such as personalized note generation and one-click paste to EMR functionality. Given these features, the tool's expense is effectively offset if you manage to treat at least one extra patient in the 20 hours you've reclaimed.

In addition to time savings, it's crucial to carefully evaluate your prospective documentation tool to confirm that it enhances operational efficiency rather than introducing new obstacles. Certain tools may include features that inadvertently delay patient documentation. For example, Tapt Health's reliance on human scribes to transfer completed notes to your EMR can extend the documentation process by an average of 3 hours, incurring additional costs for scribe services.   For most clinics that require notes to be completed by the end of the day, this would only further complicate the process, as opposed to providing a much-needed solution – the tool’s intended purpose. 

Beyond saving time and improving operational efficiency, your documentation tool should be looking for new ways to add value to your clinic by confronting prevalent pain points within the industry. ScribePT directly addresses a pervasive issue in healthcare: the undue weight given to documentation quality in evaluating clinicians' performance. In the realm of physical therapy, the quality of patient care should always be the top priority. Yet, ironically, the industry often places undue emphasis on the quality of documentation over the actual care provided. It's an age-old conundrum that has led to clinician burnout and a decline in the quality of patient interactions. 

ScribePT's groundbreaking feature, All-Star AI Training™, tackles this issue head-on by allowing clinics to train ScribePT's AI model on the documentation style of their most adept note-taking clinicians, ensuring consistency and high quality across all patient notes. ScribePT recognizes that talented clinicians should be celebrated for their care, not their capacity to document. By alleviating the documentation burden, ScribePT allows therapists to refocus on their core mission: providing unparalleled patient care.

By prioritizing time-saving features and comprehensive solutions, clinics can not only streamline patient documentation but also maximize their investment. Viewing each prospective tool from this holistic lens will enable them to unlock added value and operational efficiencies.

Choosing the Right AI Scribe Tool for Physical Therapists: Navigating the Complex Landscape of Tech Reliability and Risk

Selecting the right AI tool goes beyond assessing immediate benefits; it involves a careful evaluation of the tool's long-term viability, reliability, and the financial health of the company behind it. With venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) funding driving unprecedented growth in tech startups, understanding the implications of such investments on the stability and longevity of an AI scribe tool becomes paramount. Remember; you don’t want a tool that will only be around for a year or so. You want one that will last for as long as you need it. Otherwise, not only do you waste money on paying for the tool, but also the time and effort you and your team spent learning how to use it.

The Double-Edged Sword of VC/PE Funding

VC/PE funding can be an amazing catalyst for rapid market expansion and technological advancements. However, this influx of capital comes with high expectations for exponential growth and capturing vast addressable markets—targets that are often ambitious, if not unrealistic, within more niche sectors like rehabilitation therapy.

Physical therapists should also be wary of the inherent volatility associated with VC-backed ventures. Statistics paint a sobering picture, with over 70% of VC-funded companies failing within their first few years. The pursuit of aggressive growth often leads to frequent pivots, which, while necessary for survival in the tech ecosystem, can significantly alter the original mission or functionality of the product. For an AI scribe company, this might mean shifting focus from specialized fields like physical therapy to broader healthcare markets in search of larger opportunities. In the worst-case scenario, it folds entirely due to failure to meet aggressive milestones set forth during funding, leading to team restructuring and eventual discontinuation of the product, as was the case with Robin Healthcare.

Evaluating AI Scribe Tools: A Guide for Physical Therapists

Before selecting an AI scribe tool, physical therapists should conduct a thorough evaluation of the company’s funding and structure. Here are key factors to consider:

  • Longevity and Stability: Research the company’s funding background, market presence, and growth trajectory. A company that is highly reliant on VC/PE funding for survival might not be the best long-term partner as it may:
    • Abruptly cease operations - Robin Healthcare, a now defunct AI scribe tool that disappeared due to loss of funding, is a recent example of this meteoric arch.
    • Pivot to address a larger market - Early indicators of this can include things as subtle as brand changes that telegraph larger aspirations e.g., shifting towards “health” or “medical” branding.
    • Shift product priorities related to an exit strategy—Most venture-backed companies have a 2-5 year exit strategy. Many times, that exit involves being acquired by a larger company with overlapping interests. Unfortunately, most products rarely remain the same post-acquisition. Instead, their teams and technology are absorbed by the acquiring company, and the original product vision fades. Many acquisitions by the likes of Nuance and Adobe illustrate this theme.
  • Market Focus: Understand the company’s commitment to the physical therapy sector. Companies primarily targeting broader healthcare markets might not offer the specialized features or customization that physical therapy practices require. Additionally, a shift in focus could mean a reduction in support or continuous improvement of the features most relevant to your needs.
  • Customer Support and Community Feedback: Look for companies with robust customer support structures and positive feedback from current users. Long-term partnerships are built on reliable support and the continuous evolution of the product based on user feedback.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Data Security: Given the sensitive nature of medical records, ensuring that the AI scribe tool complies with healthcare regulations (like HIPAA in the United States) and employs robust data security measures is non-negotiable. As you don’t want to risk paying for a tool that doesn’t have the proper security measures in place, seek answers to the following crucial questions:
    • Does the company have any experience working with sensitive information?
    • Do they have a team devoted to compliance and security?
    • Does the company have the infrastructure necessary to safeguard the privacy of patient information?

With all these considerations in mind, it is in your best interest to opt for a tool that is backed by a company with a reputation for reliability. Enter ScribePT. Unlike other tools on the market, ScribePT is backed by a technology company with more than 20 years of experience in the business. Moreover, ScribePT is firmly dedicated to serving the rehab therapy community and tailoring our product to fit those specific documentation needs – unlike other tools, which have already begun to transition their core product into more generally serving the medical field.

Choosing the right AI scribe tool involves more than just its documentation capabilities; it requires a balance between embracing innovation and exercising caution. By prioritizing stability, market focus, and alignment with rehabilitation therapy's unique needs, physical therapists can make informed decisions that secure the long-term efficiency and effectiveness of their practices.

Simplifying Physical Therapy Documentation: Navigating the Ease of Use of AI Tools

The final criteria you need to consider when choosing a PT documentation tool for your clinic is its ease of use. After all, a documentation tool is supposed to make taking notes easier, not further complicate the process.

Considering the user experience and the tool's impact on your team's day-to-day operations is essential. Here are some key considerations:

  • User-Friendly Interface: One of the first things to assess is the tool's interface. Is it intuitive and easy to navigate, or does it require extensive training to master? Opting for a tool with a user-friendly interface can significantly reduce the learning curve for your team, allowing them to quickly adapt and enhance productivity.
  • Setup and Maintenance: Consider the setup and ongoing maintenance requirements of the tool. Does it entail a lengthy and complicated setup process, or is it relatively plug-and-play? Additionally, evaluate the maintenance needs—are regular updates and troubleshooting efforts necessary? A tool that minimizes setup and maintenance demands can save your team valuable time and resources in the long run.
  • Impact on Patient Interaction: Evaluate how the documentation tool impacts your team's interaction with patients. Does it facilitate smoother communication and engagement, or does it create barriers? Ideally, the tool should enhance patient sessions by allowing therapists to focus more on providing care and less on administrative tasks. A great way to evaluate this is determining how truly “hands-free” a tool is – ie, does it enable you to conduct your sessions by fully engaging with and looking at your patients rather than your computer screen? 
  • Learning Curve and Productivity: Assess how long it takes for an average therapist to learn and effectively use the tool. A steep learning curve can hinder productivity and cause frustration among your team. Look for tools that offer comprehensive training resources and ongoing support to expedite the onboarding process and maximize productivity from the outset.

Prioritizing ease of use when selecting a PT documentation tool is crucial for optimizing efficiency and enhancing patient care in your clinic. By choosing a tool with a user-friendly interface, minimal setup and maintenance requirements, positive impacts on patient interaction, and a manageable learning curve, you can empower your team to focus on what matters most—delivering exceptional care to your patients.

PT vs. Medical Focused AI Documentation Tools

If you’re a physical therapist looking for a documentation tool to streamline the way your staff records patient sessions, it’s essential that you research your prospects as much as possible. One crucial aspect to consider is whether the tool is specifically tailored for physical therapy or if it's a more general medical documentation solution.

While physical therapists can technically utilize medical-focused tools, several reasons make opting for a PT-centric solution more advisable. Firstly, medical documentation tools may lack the capability to capture all essential elements of a physical therapy session. This limitation can result in incomplete notes, requiring additional time and effort from the PT to rectify—a counterproductive scenario that detracts from the tool's intended purpose of saving time.

Moreover, cost-effectiveness is a significant factor to consider. Medical documentation tools often have a higher price tag than PT-focused alternatives. Consider the comparison between ScribePT and Nuance's Dragon Medical One.

ScribePT, designed specifically for physical therapy, offers a streamlined experience at a lower price point. It boasts features tailored to PTs' unique needs, including one-click EMR transfer, speaker recognition, note dictation, and customizable personal notes—all essential for efficient session documentation.

In contrast, Dragon Medical One, while proficient in medical diagnosis recording, lacks the customization options crucial for comprehensive PT documentation. Additionally, it has a higher price point and a one-time implementation fee of $525, potentially straining PT clinics' budgets.

In conclusion, opting for a physical therapy documentation tool ensures that your practice's unique needs are met effectively and efficiently. By choosing a solution like ScribePT, tailored specifically for PTs, you can streamline session recording, enhance productivity, and maximize cost-effectiveness—all while providing optimal patient care.

How ScribePT Holds Up Against Its Competitors

ScribePT vs. Tapt Health

Tapt Health is a physical therapy documentation tool that aims to reduce after-hours documentation and expedite evaluations. Able to record sessions and generate SOAP notes, this tool promises to reduce documentation time by 60 minutes every day. However, its core offering does not include some crucial components that enable true time-savings, most notably its inability to automatically populate your SOAP notes directly into your EMR. While this is a service they can provide, it comes at an additional cost and typically adds a few hours to the process, as it requires human scribes to complete this final step.

Here’s how Tapt Health measures up against ScribePT:

ScribePT vs. ComprehendHealth

ComprehendHealth is a physical therapy-focused tool that helps physical therapists generate complete documentation of patient sessions. Comprehend is a Chrome extension that is compatible with a wide variety of EMRs/EHRs and can not only produce SOAP notes but also goals to further assist the PT in creating a plan for the patient’s treatment. However, a common critique of this product is the additional burden on users to adjust the notes to sound more aligned with their own voice, as their offering lacks the option to tailor notes to your specific note style.

Additionally, though it offers to go a step beyond note creation to create goals, they typically lack the specificity and level of detail with functional categories required to be seen as clinically appropriate. Lastly, the company recently rebranded from ComprehendPT to ComprehendHealth – signaling a potential pivot away from physical therapy to a more general healthcare-focused product.

Here’s how it compares against ScribePT:

ScribePT vs. Athelas

Athelas is a clinical documentation tool that produces complete patient documentation thanks to its naturally structured output. With features such as speaker recognition, customizable templates, and even translation capabilities, Athelas promises to reduce charting time by 90%.

Athelas is the only tool outlined in this analysis that does not offer upfront pricing on its website and requires a significant amount of information from the user before you’re able to gain more information – making it a bit more difficult for the average user to evaluate its value. Similar to ComprehendHealth, it seems also to be straddling the line between being entirely physical therapy-focused and, more generally in the healthcare space.

See the chart below to see how Athelas compares to ScribePT:

ScribePT vs. FreedAI

FreedAI is a medical documentation tool that transcribes and records patient sessions for the physician. It boasts features that help mimic the physician’s style of documentation thanks to its self-learning capabilities. While it boasts impressive capabilities, its general medical focus places more burden on the user to tailor the product to better serve the desired SOAP output.

Look at the chart below to see how FreedAI matches up to ScribePT.

ScribePT vs. Dragon Medical One by Nuance®

Dragon Medical One by Nuance® is a medical documentation tool that’s backed by Microsoft itself. A medically focused AI scribe tool, it grants users access to features that include dictation, auto-punctuation, and speech recognition. However, its steep price – including the $525 implementation fee – is enough to strike it from the top of any PT’s list for the desired documentation tool. 

Here’s how ScribePT and Dragon Medical One compare against one another.

Conclusion

Choosing the right physical therapy documentation tool requires careful consideration of multiple factors to ensure optimal outcomes for your clinic. Cost-effectiveness is crucial, as it impacts your budget and long-term financial sustainability. Additionally, ease of use directly affects your team's productivity and satisfaction, making streamlined workflows essential.

Evaluating the risk and reliability of the company behind the tool sets your clinic up for success, helping to avoid disruptions in service and ensure ongoing support. Lastly, assessing the added value of the product in terms of profitability and operational efficiency can significantly impact your clinic's success. By weighing these factors collectively, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your clinic's goals and enhances patient care delivery.

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