Federal regulations require electronic medical record adoption in offices of all sizes, which means handwritten doctor’s orders and notes aren’t enough to back payment claims or keep facilities compliant with new rules. There are numerous efficiency benefits gained from EHR, but physicians entering their own orders and notes isn’t one of them. EHR documentation done directly by physicians has numerous disadvantages including physician burnout and a larger burden of documentation.
In answer to that issue, many facilities may adopt the use of medical scribes.
- According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, doctors spend at least 16 extra minutes every day entering information into electronic records. That can lead to over 60 hours a year lost; most would agree that a physician’s time is better spent seeing and treating patients.
- Medical scribes are very beneficial roles to incorporate into a practice. They can reduce time demands on physicians, make entries more efficient and create additional jobs in the medical field.
- Not everyone who can type will be allowed to enter items into EHR. Federal regulations require information be entered by a credentialed medical assistant.
- The American Association of Medical Assistants is creating a credential for certified medical scribes. The certification requires employment at a healthcare facility for two out of the past three years, documentation from a licensed supervisor attesting to EHR proficiency, and completion of required AAMA courses.
- Dr. Alan J. Bank says he believes every physician’s office or medical facility will use scribes within the next five years. He said doctors don’t want to be typists, and it doesn’t make sense to use their time on clerical functions.
Role of a scribe
Scribes are generally hired to aid with electronic health record documentation, to capture accurate and detailed documentation in a timely manner. Their duties include:
- Assisting the provider in navigating EHR
- Responding to various messages directed by the provider
- Locating information and records for review
- Completing EHR as directed
- Researching information
But is it profitable?
According to an article by the American Medical Association, medical scribes can redeem the cost of bringing them onboard as quickly as in one year. The average cost of implementing a scribe program was $47,594 for the first year. To make a scribe program profitable, physicians will only “need to see two new or three returning patients” a day. Given how back-to-back a physicians schedule often is, this seems like an easy answer to implement.
The article goes on to say that there are a few things physician practices should keep in mind before considering implementing a program:
- Bear the own cost of your scribe – Scribes are there to make practicing more efficient, it is only fair that physicians pay the cost of their own scribe.
- Don’t expect more visits immediately – Using scribes are a process and physicians are already used to new people coming through their doors for check-ups
- Productive doctors first – Offer scribes to doctors who have already met their baseline because they will continue to see more patients
- Virtual scribes – Many scribe companies already have transmitting systems in place so scribes can work remote
Scribes are instrumental in increasing the efficiency of your practice, other factors such as finding the right billing software can also increase productivity.