There’s only so much one human can do and with electronic medical records systems and billing codes becoming more complex every year, something has to give and the answer is scribes to do the data entry and billing. At first they became a regular sight in emergency rooms and now their use through hospitals and clinics continues to grow. Some are finding their revenue is now growing as they are able to spend more time with the patient versus entering chart data.
Production time for the doctors according to the examples given in this article does improve. It’s much more difficult though for a small practice to substantiate adding scribes as the money is not there as well as some hospitals who are also strapped for money as a scribe is paid around $20 to $25 an hour. Most scribes are those who are looking to go into medical school and in that respect it’s a good learning experience for them. BD
Dr. Alan Bank is no Luddite. He embraced computerized patient records and their promise of improving the way he practiced medicine.
But in recent years, the Allina Health cardiologist began to feel that he was spending more time facing a computer than tending to patients.
“I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t enjoying my work, I felt like a data entry clerk,” Bank said.
His solution was to hire someone to sit in the exam room during patient visits and take care of the computer coding and note-taking.
Such specialists in health care documentation, known as medical scribes, are an increasing presence in emergency rooms and doctor’s offices statewide.
The number of medical scribes has been doubling annually, with about 20,000 expected to be working at the nation’s hospitals and clinics by the end of the year, according to the American College of Medical Scribe Specialists (ACMSS).The industry expects their ranks to swell to 100,000 by 2020.
In Minnesota, medical scribes are making rounds with hospitalists, and they’re showing up at orthopedic rehab clinics and at a handful of primary care clinics, as well.
After hiring the first scribe at his St. Paul-based cardiology clinic a few years ago, Bank conducted a simple test using four doctors to try to measure the scribe’s impact on the medical practice. The physicians worked 65 hours the traditional way and 65 hours with a scribe. The results were dramatic.
Doctors who worked with scribes spent 15 minutes with patients on a routine follow-up visit compared with the typical 20, and saw nearly a third more patients. Revenue at the clinic increased nearly $206,000 during the test period because of the scribes, Bank calculated.