Medical scribes linked to better patient experience, physician workflow

The use of medical scribes to track physician-patient encounters in real time for primary care visits was linked to significant reductions in EHR documentation time and improvements in physician productivity and job satisfaction, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Eighteen primary care physicians were randomly assigned to start the first three-month period with or without scribes and then had alternated exposure to scribes every three months for one year. The physicians completed a survey at the end of each study period. The researchers also surveyed patients of participating primary care physicians after scribed clinic visits.

Compared with periods that were not scribed, scribed periods were linked to less after-hours EHR documentation by physicians. The study found scribed periods were also linked to a higher likelihood that a physician would report spending more than 75 percent of the visit interacting with the patient.

"Our results support the use of medical scribes as one strategy for improving physician workflow and visit quality in primary care," the researchers wrote.

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