Can Scribes Assuage the Documentation Burden of Psychiatrists?

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Apr 20, 2023

Can Scribes Assuage the Documentation Burden of Psychiatrists?

The changing landscape of behavioral and mental healthcare has necessitated that psychiatrists be more time efficient to accommodate a higher load of patients. Did you know that more than 44 million American adults are diagnosed with mental health problems? Well, as the demand for services continues to increase and more patients flock to mental health clinics, psychiatrists are not only struggling to provide care but also facing extensive documentation and compliance requirements. Given that mental health relies heavily on narrative documentation, EHRs continue to be a pain point for psychiatrists. Some psychiatrists who are so fed up with EHR time suck have turned to medical scribes to ease their documentation burden. Yes, psychiatry medical scribes are a perfect way to alleviate documentation burden so as to keep encounters focused on the patient - not on the computer screens.

Pain points in the delivery of mental healthcare services

Psychiatrists are extremely busy these days seeing 25 to 30 patients a day, often accompanied by their families. Psychiatric appointments are generally longer and it is important not to feel rushed or overwhelmed, and most importantly make the patient feel listened to. Till date, there is no medical test that can diagnose a mental illness. Psychiatrists get to talk to patients to understand their concerns and symptoms. This could mean asking a lot of questions to come up with the right diagnosis and treatment plan. The task that psychiatrists find least appealing is the creation of clinical notes. However, it's a crucial task and one that is required professionally. For psychiatrists - particularly those who practice medication management need to comply with certain documentation requirements for CPT Code 99214 all while providing care. Huff! Sounds intimidating? So, in order to mitigate the burden of documentation scribes are being increasingly used these days.

Nature of psychiatric evaluations and need for scribes

Unlike other medical specialties, psychiatrists have no laboratory tests, no brain scans or biological tests or x-rays to confirm the presence of a mental disorder. Pure clinical judgment in psychiatry makes it even more challenging. The psychiatrist needs to build a good rapport with the patient to be able to take proper history to reach the final diagnosis. Usually a psychiatrist gathers ample information through a detailed interview which includes symptoms, thoughts, feelings, behavior patterns and life history in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Psychiatric interviews are a challenging task - you need to be empathetic, ask the right questions, think about the diagnostic criteria, and at the same time document the encounter. Indeed, psychiatrists have got quite a difficult balancing act. Typing while talking to patients can be time-efficient but patient care cannot be compromised for efficiency. Hence, it is best to hire psychiatry medical scribes. With the scribe to help you with the documentation you can focus on information gathering alone to accurately diagnose and plan treatments.

Burnout in psychiatrists

Did you know that psychiatrists are vulnerable to experiencing burnout than any other physician? Administrative demands and work overload were identified as two of the top five sources of stress. Similarly, overt bureaucracy, excessive workloads and not having enough free time were cited as the reasons for early retirement and why aspiring medical students don't prefer to pursue a career in psychiatry. Another survey identified that psychiatrists found out of hours or long work hours, voluminous paperwork and balancing personal and professional lives quite stressful. Experts recommend hiring medical scribes to deal with burnout contributors. Having someone to take care of the paperwork significantly reduces workload and allows for better physician-patient relationships, the bedrock of effective care.

The impact of Covid-19 on mental health

The impact of Covid-19 on mental health has far reaching effects. Experts are of the opinion that mental health issues from Covid-19 could last a generation. Several psychiatrists have reported a large number of people seeking mental health support during and post pandemic. This is because the unprecedented global health crisis has not only triggered anxiety and depression but has also exacerbated existing mental health conditions. No wonder, mental health professionals are also under pressure to help a greatly increased number of patients. Seeing more patients brings in voluminous paperwork to deal with on a daily basis. A wise choice is to take the help of medical scribes to document patient visits while you focus on listening to your patient's story, After all, the strongest diagnostic tool a psychiatrist has are words - listening and responding to what the patient says rather than typing at the computer.


Psychiatrists treat people with mental health illnesses, but what about their mental health. Physicians in general and Psychiatrists in particular are more likely to suffer from work-related stress and burnout. Administrative demands and work overload are the major contributing factors. Well, why struggle with documentation demands when you can take the help of Scribe4Me's psychiatry medical scribes. They can take the load of EHR documentation off your shoulders and allow you to focus on listening to your patient's story in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Would you like to know more about our medical scribing services? Do email us at [email protected] or give us a call at (908)736-4180.

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