California Providers Incorporate Medical Scribes To Boost Efficiency
Citing the demands of digital recordkeeping, California physicians increasingly are using medical scribes to enter patient data into their computer systems, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Many providers previously recorded patient information on paper charts or by dictating into recorders and then transcribing the information later. However, CMS regulations now penalize facilities that do not keep electronic health records.
Effect of Computers on Patient-Provider Interactions
Justin Wagner, medical director of the emergency department at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, said the switch to EHRs has been stressful for providers.
Bob Wachter, a professor in UC-San Francisco's department of medicine, said entering patient information into a computer during a patient visit forces providers to constantly move between the patient and their computer, which can make it difficult to:
- Hold conversations with patients;
- Keep eye contact; and
- Make connections with patients.
Wachter said, "The [EHR] is a great source of doctor dissatisfaction."
Increased Use of Medical Scribes
According to Caroline Nguyen, a Sutter emergency medicine physician, scribes' duties generally include:
- Typing out physician observations about patients; and
- Entering patient data into digital charts, which are later approved and submitted by physicians.
Scribes cannot order tests or prescribe medication and most do not speak directly to patients, according to the Bee.
Providers increasingly are employing scribes to boost efficiency, the Bee reports. For example:
- Dignity Health has used scribes in the EDs of at least six of its facilities over the last three years;
- Sutter Health's Sacramento and Davis EDs employ scribes to shadow doctors; and
- UC-Davis Medical Center uses some scribes in its ED and is considering expanding their use to other departments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical scribes in California make an average of $45,000 annually -- about $9,000 more than the national average (Caiola, Sacramento Bee, 1/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.