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    Scribes slash EMR burden

    Provider satisfaction ‘off the charts,’ says one urologist


    Potential drawbacks

    Michael Murphy, MDDr. MurphyThere is no license required to become a medical scribe. The job description, according to ScribeAmerica, is a person who helps the provider with data gathering and real-time EMR documentation. And while the profession does not require certification or training to educate scribes on medical terminology, privacy law, and more, scribes hired through companies like ScribeAmerica receive training. In the case of ScribeAmerica, it’s 120 initial hours and continuing scribe education. And there is a certification through the American College of Medical Scribe Specialists, although the college’s website does not list urology among the specialties certified.

    Read - VA: APRNs may practice without oversight

    Scribes’ pay often comes out of physicians’ pockets.

    The average pay for a scribe in a urology practice is $10 to $16 an hour, according to Dr. Murphy. Payscale.com lists the average pay for a medical scribe at about $12 an hour. The average medical scribe salary is $20,000, according to Glassdoor.com.

    “I am sure this varies but we have paid $12 to $16 per hour, depending on the experience and expertise of the scribe,” Dr. Kogan said.

    Another potential disadvantage of scribes is that they add one more person to the room, according to Dr. Stork.

    “Sometimes, when I have a patient and a bunch of family members in a room and a scribe, there just isn’t enough room. And I’ll ask the scribe to step out and tell her later what to add,” he said.

    Not everyone is a fan

    Peter C. Albertsen, MDDr. AlbertsenPeter C. Albertsen, MD, who practices urology at UConn Health, Farmington, CT, said he doesn’t think using a scribe is cost-effective for his practice.

    “Furthermore, what happens to these people when I am in the OR, on vacation, add patients for an extra session, am away at a meeting, etc.? Unless a scribe has other duties, I am not certain it makes sense financially,” Dr. Albertsen said. “I usually click the various boxes and phrases as I take my history and then type a summary note at the end. I often read as I am typing to reinforce points with patients and make sure they agree and understand the plan. I then hand them a copy of the masterplan as they leave the office.”

    Also see: Does increased stress lead to heart attack?

    Whether to hire a scribe is often a matter of physician preference, according to Dr. Stork. Dr. Stork’s partners, for example, have chosen not to have scribes.

    “We’re all wired differently. I think that for physicians who really want to spend more time with their patients and don’t want to be spending a lot of hours after office hours, inputting all that data, a scribe is a really good option,” Dr. Stork said.

    Next: Scribe hiring tips

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...


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    • [email protected]
      Dear Anonymous, Great questions! When I first started using a scribe, our front desk handed all of my patients a written explaination detailing the scribe's role on our healthcare team. Patients were always given the option of seeing me without a scribe in the room. I almost always have my scribe step out of the room for the patient exam, unless I need a chaperone and no one else is available. I can count on one hand the number of patients in the past year who have asked to see me without a scribe in the room. We also try hard to be very sensitive to the nature of the patient's visit. Not uncommonly, my scribe will volunteer to step out of the room in an effort to make the patient feel more comfortable - particularly during discussions about sexuality and sexual dysfunction. Patients seem to really like the eye contact and focused attention that having a scribe affords me. I believe that since I started using a scribe my documentation is better and my orders and coding are more accurate. Plus, she is just super nice and really fun to work with! Again, thank you for your question. I'd be happy to try to answer any additional questions you might have about how we use a medical scribe in our office. - Brian Stork
    • Anonymous
      Scribes are all well & good for the practice. My question is did the doctor ask the patient if it was okay with them that someone else is in the room? Many don't ask the patient. Does the scribe leave the room before any exam is performed? I know in some practices they don't. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Raffie
    • Anonymous
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