Hiring a Medical Scribe in Your Practice? Here’s What You Need to Know

Tue, Feb 13, 2018 --

Coding Updates

To minimize the clerical load linked to electronic health record (EHR) data entry, physicians across the U.S. are increasingly turning to medical scribes. In fact, an estimate by scribe employer ScribeAmerica predicts that as many as 100,000 scribes may be working in this country by 2020!

And why not? A recent study indicates that using scribes can reduce physician’s average time spent on EHR work by 50 percent. However, there are some downsides to consider, and not being aware of the rules could jeopardize your claims.

Make sure you identify the pros and cons of hiring a medical scribe in your practice.

Pros

Higher Productivity

Scribes boost productivity as they shorten each appointment. And shorter appointments mean more appointments each day, leading to increased revenue.

 More Accuracy & Legibility + Better Chart Quality

Because a scribe’s job is documentation, you can expect the legibility of the charts and accuracy of coding to be better, resulting in both faster and higher reimbursement.

More Face-Time With Patients

Scribes perform many of the physician’s clerical duties — and this frees the physicians to focus more on diagnosing, treating, and connecting with patients. So the physician has enough face-time with patients.

Physician Satisfaction

Physicians who work with scribes get their work done faster and are more satisfied with their profession as they are no longer tied to mundane computer work.

Quality of Patient Encounter

Medical scribes also improve the quality of patient encounters. With the help of a scribe, physicians can focus more on patients and talk freely with them. This leads to more productive and valuable interaction. And patients tend to be happier as they appreciate the physician’s undivided attention.

Great Introduction to a Career in Medicine

Being a scribe can also be a great platform for anyone preparing for a career as a physician, physician assistant, or nurse.

Cons

Scarcity of Good Scribes

One big disadvantage is that it can be difficult to find a good scribe. They need a wide range of skills, including knowledge of medical terminology and healthcare software. So it can be a big challenge to get a good scribe on board.

Minimal Standards

The current lack of standards for scribes makes it tough to ensure the scribe you’re hiring knows his job well. And once the scribe is working, it can be hard to keep track of what the scribe is allowed to do. For instance, the question of whether scribes may enter orders is a major topic of discussion.

Discomfort to Patients

There are many patients who might not be comfortable having a stranger in the exam room, and those patients may not be as open about their health issues as they would without the scribe in the room.

Documentation Exceptions

In some cases, the physician is the only person who should record certain pieces of health information. Physicians should not hand over those responsibilities to medical scribes.

How About You?

Are you planning to hire a scribe in your practice, or does your practice already have scribes? Are you a scribe with thoughts to share on this profession?

About 

Barnali is a medical coding and billing writer at TCI who has worked in the healthcare industry since 2009. She holds a master’s degree in English literature and a diploma in advertising and marketing. She enjoys writing about ICD-10 and Medicare compliance.

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