Should Your Practice Hire a Medical Scribe? Top 3 Things To Consider

May 17, 2022 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Revenue Cycle Management, Practice Management

In today’s ever-evolving world where medical practices are swamped with work, finding solutions that are effective at increasing operational efficiency is vital to success. Depending on which facet of your practice you need to streamline, there are a wealth of options to help reduce your workload and maintain operational excellence. 

One area, in particular, is that of the relationship between patient, physician, and the electronic health record system. If you’re looking to optimize this workflow while delivering great patient care, then hiring a medical scribe might be a route for your medical practice to consider!

Medical scribes can help reduce the physician’s workload while providing support for accurate documentation. Keep reading to learn more about what is a medical scribe, how one becomes a medical scribe, and some points to consider if your medical practice should hire a physician scribe!

Quick Links:

  • What Is a Medical Scribe?
  • How Do You Become a Medical Scribe?
  • Should Your Practice Hire a Medical Scribe? Top 3 Things to Consider

What Is a Medical Scribe?

A medical scribe, sometimes called a physician scribe, is someone who takes notes and manages the documentation necessary within a medical context, essentially acting as a physician’s personal assistant. This might include: 

  • Gathering information about the patient to prepare the physician for their appointment
  • Updating patient information within the practice’s EHR system
  • Managing other relevant paperwork as required
  • And more!

It’s important to note that a medical scribe is different from a medical transcriptionist because the scribe experiences the physician-patient interaction in real-time whereas the transcriptionist types out what is dictated to them. 

Another distinction worth noting is that a medical scribe is not a nurse—scribes aren’t trained to administer medications or tests, nor are they prepared to give medical advice. Just because they’re witnessing the interaction between the patient and provider doesn’t mean that they’re considered healthcare experts!

Medical scribes can boost your practice's operational efficiency

How Do You Become a Medical Scribe?

Medical scribes can pursue this career path by having, at minimum, a high school degree and are typically working on an advanced degree. Naturally, being on a pre-medical school track lends well to this field since knowing anatomy and physiology is a core component of what the job’s communications entail.

Another step towards becoming a physician scribe is to earn a certification from the American Healthcare Documentation Professionals Group; their Medical Scribe Certification was established in 2017, consists of scoring at least 80% of questions correctly on a 100-question exam, and costs under $200. This program isn’t required to be in the field of physician scribe work, but it can differentiate you from other candidates.

Physician scribes should have a well-rounded set of skills to help them thrive in the position, including:

  • Attention to detail
  • Interpersonal communication skills, including active listening and having a good bedside manner
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Computer literacy since you’ll be working with a variety of software and documentation programs
  • Time management
  • Familiarity and compliance with HIPAA and other pertinent standards

Should Your Practice Hire a Medical Scribe? Top 3 Things to Consider

Now for the big question: should your medical practice hire a scribe? Is it worth it? Check out these key advantages to hiring a medical scribe and discuss within your organization if this hiring decision is best:

Reduce Busywork and Physician Burnout

While electronic health record systems provide numerous benefits, the fact is that it’s still quite an ordeal to input detailed notes for each patient interaction every day. Filling out monotonous notes and going through the same repetitive motions for each patient interaction contributes to physician burnout, which leads to other negative consequences like increased medical errors, reduced quality of patient care, stressed interpersonal relationships, and more.

A study conducted by the dermatologists at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2017 found that incorporating medical scribes into a practice’s operations cut physician documentation time in half. Nearly 700 time-audited encounters were evaluated, which resulted in about 6.1 minutes of clinical documentation time spent per patient interaction; after the integration of medical scribes, clinical documentation time averaged about 3 minutes per patient.

Quick ROI Due to Operational Efficiency

The same study mentioned above found that medical scribes also boosted the practice’s healthcare revenue cycle and resulted in a quick return on investment. In comparing two 3-month periods, there was nearly an 8% increase in revenue with the medical scribe present versus no medical scribe service used.

Not only is there a financial ROI that your practice can enjoy, but the time saved can free up your physicians to address other matters, read up on scholarship, and take more time to contemplate their patients’ wellness journeys.

Consider these points if you're looking to hire a medical scribe

Improve Patient Engagement and Satisfaction

One more point to consider if you’re thinking about hiring medical scribes is that of patient engagement and patient satisfaction. Since the physician scribe will be present and taking active notes on the patient interaction, the physician can be more present and engage directly with the patient rather than facing a computer screen and appearing distant.

Patient engagement and patient satisfaction are two major components for your medical practice to be aware of and continuously improving. Your patients are the whole reason your medical practice exists, after all, and they have a tremendous impact on your healthcare revenue cycle—so taking steps to boost their satisfaction is always a good idea.

Optimize Your Medical Practice Operations with NCG Medical!

Medical scribes can significantly improve your medical practice’s workflows—but that’s often not the only point of friction in your operations. The medical coding and billing process can be taxing, complicated, and frustrating, especially if you’re constantly facing rejected claims and inaccurate codes.

Want to streamline your medical practice’s operations and overall healthcare revenue cycle? Partner with NCG Medical to handle your medical billing and coding so that you can focus on what matters most: delivering great care to your patients.

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