Demand for EHR scribes on the rise

The use of scribes to help physicians document notes into electronic health records continues to gain traction, creating a boon for scribe staffing companies, according to an article from National Public Radio.

Staffing company PhysAssist reports that it has grown 46 percent to 50 percent a year, from 35 scribes in 2008 to 1,400 now. The company is expanding its Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters for the second time, and has opened an additional office in Chicago. Two other large scribe staffing companies--Scribe America and Medical Scribe--each employ thousands more, according to the article.

Scribes, who make $8 to $16 dollars per hour, shadow EHR-using physicians, typing notes and speaking into handheld microphones. They enable physicians to avoid "hours" of administrative work and spend more time interacting with patients. The additional administrative burden caused by EHRs is one of the primary reasons why many physicians are dissatisfied with the systems.

"I would more than happily sacrifice a significant chunk of my income for the improved quality of life I have [using a scribe]," an orthopedic surgeon told NPR.  

However, scribes don't come without risk, since the physician ultimately is responsible for the medical record, and must approve a scribe's work.

Other reports have indicated that while scribes can make physicians' lives much easier, they also can be less efficient and increase the risk of data entry errors. Moreover, while physicians may embrace scribes, many patients don't like having a third person, typically a stranger, in the exam room with them.

To learn more:
- read the article