February 05, 2018
1 min read

Medical scribes do not hinder physician workflow, patient satisfaction

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Maria I. Danila

Findings published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology revealed that physicians and their patients exhibited positive views of their experiences using medical scribes for electronic medical record documentation, with no reported negative impacts on physician workflow or patient satisfaction.

“The widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHR) in the past decade has changed the way physicians and patients interact during office visits,” Maria I. Danila, MD, MSc, MSPH, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Healio Rheumatology. “The time-consuming task of data entry and decreased amount of one-on-one interaction have led to dissatisfaction with EHR systems among physicians and other providers.”

To evaluate the feasibility and impact of using medical scribes to support EHR documentation on clinic workflow, and physician and patient satisfaction, Danila and colleagues conducted a pilot study within outpatient rheumatology and endocrinology clinics at an academic medical center. Overall, 3 rheumatologists, 3 endocrinologists and 496 patients participated.

The study included a 6-week intervention phase, in which medical scribes assisted in EHR documentation, followed by a control phase with unassisted, traditional documentation practices. The researchers tracked the physicians’ satisfaction on a scale of 5 to 25, with higher values denoting greater satisfaction; physician autonomy, on a scale of 4 to 16; workflow, with 1 representing “calm” and 5 meaning “chaotic;” and patient satisfaction, on a 5-point scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

According to the researchers, physicians had an overall favorable view of the documentation assistance provided by medical scribes, which they perceived to be useful and easy to use. Further, physicians reported that using scribes had a positive impact on their clinic workflow. Among patients, 94% either agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the use of medical scribes. However, patient satisfaction was not significantly different than that of the control phase. The association between the use of medical scribes and physician satisfaction, workflow perception and autonomy were not statistically significant.

Danila concluded, “The findings of our study indicate that utilization of medical scribes for EHR documentation assistance in non-procedural medicine sub-specialties, such as rheumatology and endocrinology, is feasible and was well received by both patients and physicians.”– by Jason Laday

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.