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    Is a scribe right for you?


    Benefits of a Scribe

    Hans Haydon, MD, internal medicine section chief for Seton Medical Center Austin, says professional scribes are unassuming during a visit, blend in to the exam room and do not insert themselves into the discussion.

    “Patients appear to appreciate the increased direct attention, which we can give them due to the assistance of the scribe in data entry,” he says.

    He’s found that using a scribe so improved his work/life balance and economics that he changed his mind about early retirement.


    MORE TECHNOLOGY NEWS: 6 steps to avoid a health IT outage


    “Having a scribe in part frees me from emphasizing the data collection and documentation phases of an encounter. This allows me to read a patient’s facial expressions, body language and other nonverbal forms of communication that are so important in a medical encounter,” he says. “It then also allows more time for examination and discussion with the patient about diagnostic and treatment options, in order to jointly develop a plan going forward.”

    Another benefit he’s found is that a use of a scribe saves time and allows more patients to be seen in a quality manner while still allowing the clinic to collect the data needed within the EHR.

    “A doctor’s personal time can be preserved, and I would estimate that using a scribe frees up 8 to 12 hours a week for me—time that can be spent on family or other recreational activities,” he says.

    When a patient visit begins, it’s customary for the medical assistant or nurse “rooming” the patient will introduce the scribe and sometimes the doctor does. 

    “Of course, the patient has the right to not have a scribe present,” Haydon says. “If the patient is new or not familiar with the concept, my medical assistant asks before I go in if that is OK. If not, then I do the charting myself or place the orders, pick diagnoses and then quickly dictate to the scribe the [medical history] and exam findings once the visit is concluded.”


    FURTHER READING: Tips to put patients before EHR paperwork


    Gastroenterologist Rick Bone, MD, regional medical director of Advocate Medical Group, Chicago, says the group recently began working with virtual scribes thanks to a partnership with Virtual Physician Partners through IKS Health, and the response from physicians has been resoundingly positive.

    The interaction in the exam room is anonymously recorded using unique patient identifiers and then the audio file is encrypted and sent to the Virtual Physician Partners who asynchronously create the medical note for physicians. This means that the Virtual Physician Partner has the opportunity to review the audio more than once, something a live-scribe and a physician aren’t able to employ.

    “From the quantitative side, we’ve seen that physicians are saved one to two hours of charting a day—a 60% reduction in total documentation time,” he says. “This has increased access to care for our patients. We’ve also seen an improvement in coding documentation, which helps with the coding accuracy and overall compliance measures.”

    Next: The case against scribes

    Keith Loria
    Keith Loria is a contributing writer to Medical Economics.

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    • Anonymous
      Short reply. Rewind. NO EMR, NO excess expenses. No need for scribes. Just the patient and the doctor. Patient tells the doctor his story, doctor listens, examines, doctor gives healing advise , patient trusts the doctor. No need for fancy office space, no need for telemedicine. Doctors are patients too and we want what any patient wants when we are sick someone knowledgeable to cares and listens and available when needed. The same person who knows you every time you come in. No EMR scheduler and flow soft ware. I just covered the most fantastic office today. So efficient. Such nice caring staff, A caring and brilliant doctor the staff and patients love. Old fashion medicine. and well organized paper chart . What a blessing of efficiency and excellent medical care. I am afraid to go to the doctor with the fancy office and large support staff that does not know you, is stuck finding all you medical information but has an IT department and PR department. That doctor is stressed.

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