In the hospital world, medical scribes are an everyday fact of life but they are quickly spreading into the ambulatory scene. Why is this occurring? Today’s system of increased payment for quality rather than quantity of services requires additional documentation in order to meet CMS’ (and other carriers) requirements. There is a lot more information that has to be recorded in the medical record so it can be transferred to the payers. This additional material can be entered into the EHR system by a medical scribe instead of the physician.
A medical scribe can save you money if you find yourself needing additional staff for help in dealing with patients, but do not need the more specialized training of allied health practitioners such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants. However, Medicare only permits certified medical assistants or equivalents to enter electronic medication, laboratory, or radiology orders into electronic health record systems, so if you do use scribes, we suggest that they be certified medical assistants.
In The Hospitalist, Michael Murphy, MD, discussed medical scribes, saying: “A scribe is a physician collaborator who fulfills the primary secretarial and non-clinical functions of the busy physician or mid-level provider. Scribes specialize in medical data entry into paper or electronic medical record systems, and by instituting efficient workflow processes, increase the medical provider’s capacity to provide direct patient care, like seeing the next waiting patient, performing medical procedures, and communicating with nursing staff.” (Michael Murphy, MD – Medical Scribes, Career Over)
According to Dr. Murphy, 60% of scribes work part-time, while 40% are full-time employees. Scribes have been shown to work quite well in the outpatient setting. So if you are looking for a relatively low cost solution to your documentation needs, consider hiring a medical scribe.