Medical Scribes Enhance Patient-Centered Care And Revenue

Medical Scribes Enhance Patient-Centered Care And Revenue

Jul 19,2021

Medical Scribes Enhance Patient-Centered Care And Revenue

Since the introduction of EHRs in the year 2009 and the federal policies to encourage usage, the implementation of EHRs has steadily increased. Though EHRs were introduced with good intentions, physicians greatly bear the brunt of EHRs, spending over 16 minutes in EHRs per patient encounter. The extra time required navigating through EHRs, typing and creating notes has been cited as one of the popular causes for physician burnout. It is here that the need for scribe services kicks in. These "physician saviors" undertake to perform the data entry and administrative work associated with charting and save physicians valuable time, allowing them to focus purely on patient care.

How scribes can help?

Sidney Lipman, MD, a private practice physician with ENT, rightly calls these scribes “data management specialists as they undertake to take charge of all the data in the EHR system. Scribes help to navigate the EHRs, retrieve information for review, respond to messages as instructed by the physician, and also research information required by physicians. Employing scribes can help you locate information faster at an undoubtedly lesser cost. By adding scribes to a practice, physicians can avoid spending more time and energy tending to the EHR than to patient care.

Improve revenue, patient interactions and work-life balance

Dr.AfserShariff ENT Physicians, Inc., in Toledo, Ohio who is also the CEO & Chief Medical Officer of Physicians Angels that provides virtual scribe services to physicians across the US says that by adding a virtual scribe to his practice he is able to see a profit of approximately $50,000 a year. Similarly, within a few months of implementing a scribe program Sidney Lipman, MD, a private practice physician with ENT found that income was up by 32%. However, the benefits go beyond revenue growth. Cheryl Toth, Consultant & Speaker, KarenZupko& Associates stated that physicians reported better work-life balance. Physicians were able to get back home earlier without having to worry about any incomplete charts. With virtual scribes to take care of the documentation tasks, all charts were complete and ready for sign-off at the end of the shift or day. Dr.AfsarShariff also enunciates that when he explains to the scribe the details to be input in the EHR, the patient also listens to it enabling them to gain a better understanding of the information that they need. Meaning, more interactions equals more information.

The types of scribe implementation programs

  • The scribe accompanies the physician throughout the day with the laptop inputting data
  • The physician connects with a scribe who works remotely from an offsite location via a HIPAA secure VoIP connection
  • The physician may opt for a scribe hybrid model that incorporates a mix of off-site and in-office scribes

The main disadvantage of the first option is, with the physical scribe physically present in a confidential exam room may make the patient feel uncomfortable. Similarly, the physician’s thoughts may be interrupted while the scribe and the physician attempt to share the computer to access patient information. However, in the case of the virtual scribe and hybrid model, the scribe and the physician are connected through a secure internet connection. They listen to the conversation between the physician and the patient and enter pertinent details into the EHRs. The physician at his/her convenience can access their computer, pass on any additional information that needs to be charted, review the patient’s charts together, and then signs off, and the charts are complete.

The offsite scribe also carries with it some advantages. The scribes usually get to work with a variety of physicians. Hence, if a particular scribe is unavailable, due to some personal reasons backup scribes are always in place to have the physician covered. In the case of on-site scribes, they are familiar with the system and get the hang of it quickly. Moreover, medical assistants and nurses are also cross-trained to perform scribing duties. This again ensures uninterrupted scribe service.

The choice of scribe model hence to a great extent depends on the physician scribing needs and future plans. Dr.Afsar Sharif concludes that with scribes to reduce your EHR-related tasks promises more time for patients and life outside work.

Are the EHR challenges really true?

The two major EHR challenges faced by physicians are it interfered with open communication with patients and it was too complex to operate making data entry time-consuming. However, very little information is available to support either of these topics. Let us explore what the studies say.

  • A 2014 study stated that physicians spent less time interacting with patients and more time keying information into the EHR. Similarly, an observational study conducted of Israeli primary care encounters, found that EHRs negatively impacted patient-centered care as they spent more time gazing at the computers. (
  • A 2013 systematic literature review reports that even though EHR-related tasks impaired physician-patient communication, it encouraged patients to ask questions, as well as patient-led questioning and doctor-led information provision. (
  • There was a decrease in productivity and revenue following EHR implementation. However, productivity, volume, and revenue got close to pre-implementation levels after a period of 12 months.(
  • Another 2010 research on physician productivity in a large multi-specialty physician group stated that EHR adoption improved productivity to some extent. However, after several months, as physicians became experienced in the use of the EHR system, productivity improved noticeably.
  • There was a decrease in productivity and revenue following EHR implementation. However, productivity, volume, and revenue got close to pre-implementation levels after a period of 12 months.(

All the above studies suggest that the results may vary with specialties. The disparity may be due to a mismatch between technological design and workflow. EHRs improve efficiency for internal medical practitioners, while making it time-consuming for pediatricians and those practicing family medicine.

The upshot

The use of scribes can reduce clinical documentation burden and improve efficiency. And perhaps the by-product of increased productivity is increased revenue. The math is simple. Medical scribes allow physicians to see more patients. The more patients they see, the more revenue the clinic generates. Well, if you are a physician looking to reduce your administrative burden and improve clinical efficiency and revenue get in touch with Scribe4Me – the industry experts in low-cost, high-quality scribing solutions. We offer both live scribing and offline scribing services. To know more about how you could benefit from our services visit and fill in the contact form to share your message and your contact details with us. Our professional scribe representative will reach out to you.

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