Over the last ten years, providers across the country have ditched their old paper charts in favor of electronic health records (EHRs) as they pursued meaningful use standards. Regulators and providers alike believed this transition would speed the exchange of patient data between providers, insurers, and patients, thereby revolutionizing patient care and efficiency. Unfortunately, the opposite happened.
Most early EHR systems were not user-friendly and required providers to pay more attention to data-entry than treating patients. What's worse, the cumbersome nature of these systems forced many providers to spend several hours during their off time each day catching up with data entry tasks. The result was one of the few times in human history, where the introduction of new technology actually impeded efficiency and progress. These unintended consequences led some providers to seek out other, more efficient options.
While medical scribes have been a critical part of healthcare teams for decades, the profession has matured over the last ten years as providers struggled under the weight of their EHR obligations. Looking for solutions, many providers began delegating charting responsibilities to medical scribes during the patient encounter, which allowed physicians to focus on caring for their patients. At the same time, a trained professional handled crucial data entry tasks.
Despite lots of early success, not every provider, clinic, or healthcare system recognizes the value scribes bring. This is understandable because many clinic managers and small outpatient operations are reluctant to spend the money required to launch a scribing program. Others are so focused on cost-control that the thought of adding employees just isn't feasible.
It's an easy task to demonstrate how other healthcare workers contribute to a clinic's bottom line. The benefit a physician, nurse, or medical assistant brings is evident. However, because medical scribes are relatively new to the healthcare scene, their value may not be so clear.
After more than ten years of steady use, medical scribes have proven their value in many different ways. What’s more, clinics that use these professionals see results almost immediately. That begins with the ways medical scribes support physicians.
There's growing evidence that today's healthcare environment contributes to physician burnout. A recent American Medical Association survey found that 42% of doctors reported burnout symptoms like depression, detachment, or loss of motivation. While there are myriad reasons why an individual doctor might burn out, another AMA study showed that poor EHR usability played a considerable role. After all, poorly designed systems are eating up too much physician time and preventing them from providing the quality of care they want to.
Physician burnout isn't just a problem for the physician. If left untreated, it can impact patient care and a clinic's financial health. When physicians begin burning out, they often reduce their hours or, in the most extreme cases, quit medicine altogether. This forces clinics to hire new physicians, which is a tremendously expensive endeavor. A third AMA study found that replacing a single doctor could cost organizations between $500,000 - $1 million thanks to recruitment, sign-on bonuses, lost billings, and onboarding costs. This is where medical scribes can help.
In study, after study, after study, medical scribes have been shown to reduce physician burnout by decreasing the amount of time they spend using the EHR and increasing the amount of time spent with patients. If your organization is struggling to implement strategies for addressing physician burnout — and suffering from associated high recruitment costs — medical scribes could be your missing piece of the puzzle.
Using this team approach to care makes every appointment more efficient. Providers can focus their attention on the patient while addressing their chief complaint. At the same time, a medical scribe documents the encounter with speed and precision. Often, the chart is closed by the end of the appointment. With both jobs being done simultaneously, providers can finish appointments faster.
Depending on the specialty, providers who use scribes can easily add two - eight more patients per day. By improving patient throughput, clinics see more patients, bill for more services, and see more revenue.
When used correctly, medical scribes allow physicians to work at the top of their license consistently. This improves efficiency, reduces provider burnout, and boosts a clinic's bottom line. If you're interested in learning more about how medical scribes can support your providers, Scribe-X can help.
We're a medical scribe staffing company headquartered in Portland, Oregon, that provides highly-trained and competent scribes who can work in-person or virtually through our proprietary telehealth platform. Our customers often find that their scribes start paying for themselves in as little as six weeks. Contact us today to receive your customized const-analysis so you can see how qualified scribes can support your clinic's bottom line.