Why Physicians Rely On Medical Scribes?
Medical practices across the globe are under increased pressure to ensure that patient records are properly updated following each visit. This necessitated a significant amount of extra paperwork for physicians. Medical scribes can take on this additional responsibility, helping physicians reclaim time in their day to focus entirely on patient care.
When did Medical Scribes first appear?
Medical scribes were first introduced in the year 1970 to provide support to the growing needs of an emergency room physician. However, with the federal mandate to adopt EHRs, the use of medical scribes gained traction after 2009. Though EHRs were meant to make patient record-keeping easier, it was the other way around. The use of EHRs resulted in excessive paperwork and the clerical tasks that go with it. Physicians felt that EHRs actually detract from face time with patients. It is at this point physicians started to take the help of medical scribes who were referred to as “documentation darlings” to assist them with their documentation tasks.
The need for Medical Scribes
According to a study published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" for every one hour a physician spends with patients, an additional two hours were spent completing all the documentation relevant to the patient’s visit. With increasing administrative demands, physicians had to spend more time on paperwork and less time interacting with patients. When physicians spend more time focused onscreens, patients may feel that the physician is not attentive to their concerns. In their efforts to juggle administrative tasks with patient care, they ended up feeling frustrated, a major contributing factor for physician burnout. Those physicians who chose to focus purely on patients during the day ended up completing paperwork afterhours, either on weekends or after 6p.m. or 6a.m. It is here that the need for medical scribes rose.
Let us take a look at some of the amazing benefits of opting for medical scribing solutions
More face time with patients: Too much time spent at the computer can hinder a physician from truly connecting with patients. A study was conducted wherein 735 patients were interviewed. Of which 57% reported that doctors spent less time than usual at their computers with scribe support. Use of scribes improved physician – patient relationship as physicians were able to refocus their undivided attention on patients rather than on data input.
Better physician satisfaction: According to a research published by the Annals of Family Medicine, using medical scribes considerably improved every element of physician satisfaction - from enhancing face time and reducing paperwork to increasing chart accuracy and quality. With scribes, physicians spend less time doing paperwork, no more after-hours charting, feel less tired at the end of the shift, and experience better work-life balance.
Better patient satisfaction: With scribes to take over the administrative paperwork and related clinical tasks, physicians can focus entirely on patient needs. Patient satisfaction increases when they receive a physician’s undivided attention and care. Better patient satisfaction translates to improved patient encounters.
See more patients: Research studies validate that implementing a scribe program can help physicians increase the number of patients treated in an hour by 25%. With a medical scribe to take over the onerous administrative paperwork and related clinical responsibilities, physicians had time to add more patients to their schedules.
Mitigate physician burnout: Overwhelming paperwork and related clerical tasks are associated with physician burnout, particularly among primary care physicians. A study suggests that using scribes can help reduce the burden of bureaucratic tasks like charting and paperwork. Having said this, incorporating a scribe program is the most effective strategy to mitigate physician burnout by reducing the time spent doing paperwork and increasing the amount spent with patients.
Scribes pay for themselves: A study conducted by JAMA reports that 79% of physicians were willing to add more patients to their schedules with the help of scribes. Adding more patients equals more revenue, which more than covers the cost of the scribe. Roughly, seeing one additional patient per session was sufficient to offset the scribe costs.
Reduced administrative burden: Employing a scribe is a great way to reduce the administrative burden related to the EHRs. With the scribes taking care of the documentation and other nonclinical duties, frees up the physician to focus solely on patients, and provide a high level of care.
Positive impact on revenue: As the scribes relieve physicians of the tedious and time-consuming paperwork, they have more time to accept more patients. Depending on the specialty, many physicians were able to add two to eight patients in a day. By seeing more patients, they bill for more services and ultimately see more revenue.
Reduces patient wait times: With a medical scribe to handle much of the administrative duties, the physician quickly moves from one patient to the other while staying on schedule. This significantly reduces the amount of time they have to sit in the waiting room, frustrated.
Improves physician productivity: Medical scribes allow physicians to focus on their core mission – patient care. The scribe saves physician time spent toggling between screens on their computer, thus improving their efficiency and clinical performance. A study demonstrates that using scribes increased the number of patients seen per hour by 15.9% and reduced the time spent in the ED by 19 minutes.
How Medical Scribing Companies Save Time and Money
Medical scribe companies have become the standard solution to the burden of medical documentation. The reason is pretty straightforward – by hiring virtual medical scribes physicians can spend more time on patient care instead of the clerical work associated with practicing medicine. As physicians get to see more patients, they generate more revenue, which more than covers the cost of availing the scribe services.
If you are a physician who feels that you spend more time on charting and data entry tasks than providing patient care, it is time you hire a medical scribe. Medical scribes take the extra documentation tasks off your plate, freeing up more time for patient care and life outside of work.