Scribes help doctors step away from the EHR

Doctor with computer and gadgets
Scribes can help doctors who find the computer gets in the way of patient interactions.

For physicians who worry that their electronic health record system is coming between them and their patients, scribes just might be the answer.

That’s been the case at three doctors' primary care practice in California, where trained scribes are helping keep the computer from interfering with the doctor-patient interaction, wrote Gerardo Hizon, M.D., Hannah Shehata and Ashlee Amparan in Medical Economics.

The average doctor spends 30% to 50% of a patient encounter looking at the EHR screen. One study found doctors may spend up to triple the amount of time with computers as they do with patients. Physicians who dread having to document patient care into the EHR have created a fast-growing market for medical scribes.

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Hizon’s practice, Motion Sports MD in Murrieta, uses four scribes. His theory is that “the key to a good EHR is the minimal touching of keys” by doctors during patient visits.

Each scribe has undergone a minimum of 60 hours of supervised training and they transcribe information from physician-patient visits through a combination of free typing and completion of pre-made templates. After the patient leaves, the physician reviews the scribe’s notes, uses voice dictation to make changes and place orders before signing the note and closing the encounter.

By using scribes, the doctors at the practice do not need to type or even look at a computer screen during a patient visit except for reviewing lab results and imaging or educating a patient, they wrote.