Opinion: Why scribes are better than EHRs

Lamentations citing the difficulties of EHRs are hardly unique. But instead of trying to improve the EHRs themselves, Jared Pelo, MD, proposes an alternative solution: medical scribes.

In a recent opinion piece for STAT, Dr. Pelo, an emergency medicine physician at Lynchburg, Va.-based Centra Health, advocates for the use of medical scribes so that physicians can do what they've been trained to do.

While completing his residency at Charlottesville-based University of Virginia, Dr. Pelo, like every other resident, worked one-on-one with a medical scribe who recorded patient information using mobile technology and a HIPAA-secure cloud. After his residency, Dr. Pelo moved to a small health system in Virginia, which he intentionally sought out because of its use of scribes.

After being hired as the medical director for a different hospital, he was confronted with the fact that, for the first time in his career, he had to complete his own patient documentation. Calling the process "incredibly frustrating," Dr. Pelo knew something had to give. "It's like asking an airline pilot to fly the plane and also schedule the flight, assign the seats and load and unload the bags," he wrote about his experience.

Dr. Pelo's experience led to the creation of iScribes, a Durham, N.C.-based company that trains medical scribes and connects them to hospitals and health systems.

"The medical scribe business is generally growing at internet startup speed because these professionals add significant value by letting doctors work with patients instead of the EHR," Dr. Pelo wrote. "I believe that we are at the beginning of a massive shift that will lead to other professionals doing nearly all medical documentation chores while doctors focus on their patients."

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