Physician Staffing Blog

Healthcare News and Trends

Medical Scribes: A Physician’s Secret Weapon

March 06, 2018

Medical Scribes: A Physician’s Secret Weapon

By: Derek Klein


Traditionally, a physician's job has been focused solely on direct patient care.  However, the advent of electronic health records (EHRs) has created an overload of documentation and clerical responsibilities that slows physicians down and pulls them away from actual patient care. According to the 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives, conducted by Merritt Hawkins on behalf of The Physicians Foundation, physicians spend 21% of their time engaged in non-clinical paperwork.


To relieve this paperwork overload, physicians across the country are turning to medical scribes. Medical scribes assist physicians in a variety of documentation tasks including coding, recording laboratory and radiology results, meaningful use compliance, and EHR data entry.


The popularity of scribes in the United States has risen sharply recently as they are currently being used in more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics in the United States. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 100,000 medical scribes in the United States, or 1 scribe for every 9 physicians (American College of Medical Scribe Specialists, April 2015).


The growing use of medical scribes can be attributed to their ability to improve physician satisfaction levels, charting efficiency, patient wait times, and productivity levels. According to a recent study published by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, family physicians who work with medical scribes reported increased benefits related to quality of care, clinical operations, and patient experience.


The 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians also illustrates the issues leading to frustration and dissatisfaction for today’s physicians. The factor cited most frequently by physicians as being least satisfying was regulatory/paperwork burdens. On the other hand, physicians identified patient relationships as their primary source of professional satisfaction. Medical scribes allow physicians to have more direct face time with their patients and spend time doing what they were trained to do and what they want to do.


Not only do medical scribes provide increased satisfaction and efficiency for physicians, they also provide additional revenue for their facility. According to a 2015 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, physicians with scribes generated an additional revenue of $24,257. Total additional revenue generated was $1.4 million at a cost of roughly $99,000 for the employed scribes.


As physicians and healthcare facilities look for ways to reduce the paperwork load associated with EHR data entry, quality measure documentation, and meaningful use compliance, medical scribes will continue to increase in popularity.


To learn more about Merritt Hawkins or to search our jobs database, click here.


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