Medical scribes are a clinical innovation and have increasingly been used in medical practices across the nation. The documentation burden is substantial. Doctors in the U.S typically write clinical notes that are four times longer than those of other countries. That is why U.S physicians commonly complain that EHRs consume much of their time when compared to their overseas counterparts. To combat this issue and ease the EHR burden medical practices have tried a variety of approaches. Incorporating a medical scribe is one such approach. Scribes aid in documentation and positively impact the overall quality of healthcare delivery. Let us in this blog post explore the personal experiences shared by an orthopedic medical scribe, Salman Azfar.
The experiences Salman Azfar, a student at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine Phoenix as a medical scribe for orthopedic surgeons
He says that the first thing that was taught in a medical school was that patients wanted their doctors to be approachable. Building trust and rapport early contributes to better care experiences. However, maintaining eye contact and engaging with the patient in a one-on-one conversation while pulling-down menus and typing can be quite challenging. He says that in his opinion, and based on his experience, a medical scribe can make a whole lot of difference in this kind of situation.
Prior to attending medical school, he says that he worked as a medical scribe for orthopedic surgeons and felt that encounter documentation was meticulous and detailed. He and his fellow scribes stayed behind after clinic hours to update the notes and make corrections to the charts. He further added that from a patient perspective ‘documentation’ may make it seem that physicians are focused at the screens rather than their patients.
What can using a scribe mean for an orthopedic practice?
Using scribes can significantly reduce the documentation challenges faced by physicians. Various studies support the fact that scribes help physicians increase their efficiency and productivity by drastically cutting the amount of time they spend charting afterhours, allowing them to see more patients in a day. Several other studies reported that patient satisfaction was neither impacted nor improved with the presence of a scribe. Salman Afzer, says that from his personal experience the doctors that he scribed for were more engaged with their patients than he was used to seeing from his general shadowing and volunteer work. He says this from the increased eye contact and patient interactions that he personally observed. He concluded by saying that more extensive research may lead to conclusive evidence that medical scribes can significantly enhance the patient side of clinical encounters.
Moreover, not all practices make use of the scribes as they think that it isn’t a cost-effective option. However, research studies have shown that for various other specialties scribes increased productivity allowing physicians to see more patients while reducing costs. Medical scribes offer a range of benefits even without taking into account the economic benefits. A 2017 study projected that there would be one scribe for every nine doctors by the year 2020. He also added that scribes have a lot to offer the medical community and he being a medical scribe is highly pleased to see the increase in numbers. He concluded by saying that more in-depth study of the impact scribes have and the training of more scribes can pave the way for more amazing future physicians, less stressed current physicians, and more contented and happier patients.
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The clerical burden associated with EHR usage is attributed as the number one cause of physician burnout. We also know that physicians spend twice as much time on EHRs and other clerical tasks compared to the time providing patient care.