Scribes slash EMR burden
Provider satisfaction ‘off the charts,’ says one urologist
Scribe hiring tips
Good qualities for a scribe include attention to detail, being interested and willing to learn, and having a nice demeanor, according to Dr. Suskind. Strong typing skills are a must, according to Dr. Stork.
Dr. Baum said scribes in urology should be comfortable talking about sensitive sexual topics and notes that some people are culturally uncomfortable with watching exams or talking about such topics as sexual dysfunction or premature ejaculation. That can be a problem, he said, and urologists should address that topic in the interview before hiring a scribe.
Because many scribes are aspiring physicians and might leave their scribe jobs after a year or so to pursue their careers, it’s important for urologists to plan for a replacement. Dr. Baum said he hires the new scribe 2 weeks prior to when the current scribe is planning to leave the post, and has the current scribe train the new one.
“Within 2 weeks, they’re up to speed,” Dr. Baum said.
Dr. Kogan said there’s a drawback to hiring pre-med students as scribes.
“While they are bright and learn quickly, they rarely last a year. We train them but most often they get accepted to medical school and, if not, the job is not a good one for them long term,” Dr. Kogan said. “Emergency departments often use scribes, and we have found good scribes who want a change. They only require adjustment to urology diagnoses and to our individual preferences.”
The burden of documentation is a known burnout factor in medicine. In an online article last year, Medical Economics reported on physician burnout solutions that indicated while medical technology is a part of the solution in health care, it’s also part of the problem. One of the solutions to the problem is to move doctors away from being data-entry clerks.
Dr. Suskind said University of California San Francisco is conducting a pilot looking at the use of medical scribes. While the pilot is ongoing, Dr. Suskind said her department has examined metrics for patient and provider satisfaction.
“Patient satisfaction is up, and provider satisfaction is off the charts,” Dr. Suskind said. “We can’t envision going backwards; it has been such an overwhelmingly positive experience. At the end of clinic, all the documentation is done. All I have to do is proofread my notes, make minor changes, and sign them.”
Dr. Stork, who is midway through his career as a urologist, said he agrees that EMR responsibilities are one of the top reasons for physician burnout. And having a scribe is one way to mitigate perceived problem, he said.
Urologists who find they can’t get patients in for 2 to 3 weeks because they’re so booked should consider hiring a scribe, Dr. Baum said. “A physician assistant can be expensive. A new associate can be very, very expensive to take on. A scribe helps the doctor to be exceedingly more efficient and productive,” Dr. Baum said.
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