Study: Scribes improve physician satisfaction, chart accuracy

To streamline physician workflows, some healthcare facilities have expressed a growing interest in hiring medical scribes to draft clinical documentation. However, trials on how scribes impact physician and patient satisfaction are lacking, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

The researchers — led by Risha Gidwani, a researcher with the Center for Health Policy and Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research at Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine — conducted an experiment with physicians in an academic family medicine clinic. These physicians rotated between using a scribe and not using a scribe over the course of one year.

During weeks with a scribe, the scribe drafted all relevant documentation, which the physician reviewed before signing. During weeks without a scribe, the physician completed these charting duties alone. Through the study, researchers sought to evaluate how scribes influenced physician satisfaction, charting efficiency and patient satisfaction.

Researchers discovered the use of a scribe improved all aspects of physician satisfaction, from increasing face time with patients to decreasing time spent charting. Scribes also improved chart accuracy and chart quality, according to the researchers. Scribes had no effect on patient satisfaction.

"Scribes appear to be a promising strategy to improve healthcare efficiency and reduce physician burnout," the study authors concluded.

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