Can Rheumatology Scribes Help Improve Workflow Efficiency and Physician-Patient Satisfaction?

Can Rheumatology Scribes Help Improve Workflow Efficiency and Physician-Patient Satisfaction

Apr 23, 2022

Can Rheumatology Scribes Help Improve Workflow Efficiency and Physician-Patient Satisfaction?

Busy rheumatologists spend a lot of direct contact with their patients in order to provide the best possible care. They treat a wide variety of rare diseases and must carefully examine the symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis. In the middle of all this, it is important for them to document the key components of the patient visit in order to help with medical decision making. To provide high-quality care and to facilitate quick reimbursements detailed documentation of the patient’s complete story is important. This insurmountable documentation overload is a significant challenge that hinders the rheumatologist’s ability to deliver outstanding care. Enter the rheumatology scribes. They take the pressure off rheumatologists and help them focus on direct patient contact and care.

Staggering paperwork burden and burnout

Generally solo private rheumatology practitioners see more than 20 patients a day. As a result the paperwork and administrative burden drastically increased. Prior authorizations, step therapy requirements, EHR documentation, and other administrative tasks took up a significant portion of rheumatologists’ time. Most of the administrative work involved sending referrals to specialists and contacting patients or their primary care physicians as the chronic nature of many rheumatologic conditions usually required long-term follow-up care. Thus paperwork and administrative burdens continued to pile up on busy rheumatologists. No wonder a recent Medscape survey found that more than 50% of rheumatologists experienced burnout, the second highest among the 29 specialties surveyed. And “too many bureaucratic tasks” was identified as the major contributor to burnout in this survey.

EHR overload and need for rheumatology scribes

The widespread usage of EHRs resulted in an overload of clinical documentation and associated clerical responsibilities. Too much time spent documenting in EHRs greatly impacted the way in which rheumatologists interact with patients and deliver patient care. The time-consuming tasks of data input and the decreased time spent in direct care activities ultimately led to dissatisfaction with the EHRs. In order to put an end to EHR data entry challenges and to devote more time to patient care rheumatologists started to take the help of scribes. The greatest advantage of using a scribe is that a rheumatologist can focus on gathering a complete medical history and performing a thorough physical exam to make a definite diagnosis without having to navigate the EHR and worry about inputting data.

Evidence-based research on how rheumatology scribes improve clinic workflow and physician-patient satisfaction

In order to evaluate the impact of scribes on improving clinical workflow efficiency and physician-patient satisfaction a pilot study was conducted within an outpatient rheumatology clinic at an academic medical center. The pilot study model was as follows

Overall, three rheumatologists and 496 patients participated in this pilot study. The study comprised of a 6-week intervention phase in which a scribe program was set up to assist with EHR documentation followed by a control phase in which help from scribes was not taken for EHR documentation. Physician satisfaction level was rated on a scale of 5 to 25. The researchers observed that documentation assistance provided by the scribes had a favorable impact on physicians. These were their findings.

  • 94% of the patients reported high levels of satisfaction with the presence of scribes
  • Physicians also expressed positive views of the contributions that scribes have made in enhancing clinical workflow.
  • Physicians also reported that the use of scribes helped in offloading some of their clerical burdens, allowing them to focus on patients and figure out what is causing their symptoms. Meaning they also perceived that scribes had a positive impact in providing documentation support and improving clinical workflow.

Overall, the use of rheumatology scribes was positively accepted by both the physicians and the patients.


As a rheumatologist, you treat a wide variety of complex diseases. You need to work closely with the patient and discuss symptoms to help figure out the cause of swelling or inflammation. Why take the pressure of all regulatory and charting requirements too? Hire Scribe4Me’s rheumatology scribes who are well-versed in the medical terminology and slang specific to this specialty to ensure consistently high-quality notes. Well, leave EHR-related tasks to Scribe4Me’s rheumatology scribes while you focus on delivering optimal care to the patients.

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