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House passes bill creating VA medical scribe program to reduce wait times

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill that would launch a pilot program for medical scribes at Veteran's Affairs facilities.

If the bill becomes law, it would launch a two-year medical scribe pilot program at 10 VA medical centers. The program would assign four scribes to each participating medical center. The VA would be required to update Congress every 180 days on the program's influence on patient satisfaction, provider satisfaction, provider productivity, wait times and the volume of patients seen per day.

"I am committed to ensuring veterans have access to the healthcare they have earned and deserve," said Phil Roe, MD, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Since the VA waitlist scandal broke three years ago, I've examined several ways to improve patient care for veterans, and one that came up repeatedly in discussions was cutting down on the time physicians spend entering data … [s]cribes can help input patient data and allow physicians to focus on patient care and use their time more efficiently … It is imperative that VA physicians are focused on providing high-quality care in a timely manner, and I am proud the House unanimously approved this important legislation."

The VA Medical Scribes Pilot Act of 2017 now awaits action in the Senate.

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