Have you heard? Many healthcare providers are less than pleased with their electronic health records (EHRs). While EHRs pack the potential to promote efficiency, productivity, and care quality, these highly touted benefits have been largely elusive. Instead of gaining efficiency and productivity, many providers find themselves trapped by the tedious tasks of EHR documentation. Yet, with momentum only building behind the paperless push, providers must find solutions to the documentation challenges they face. One potential solution that’s worth considering is the use of medical scribes.
Centuries removed from the stone-tablet scribes of the past, today’s medical scribes come equipped with smart tablets or laptops and are specifically trained in the best practices of EHR documentation. Scribes help manage the patient records by documenting patient encounters in real time, including physical exams, procedures performed, test results, treatment plans, and follow-up instructions – all under the direct supervision of a provider. By reducing the burden of cumbersome data entry tasks, scribes facilitate provider efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction. More importantly, scribes enable physicians to focus on what they are uniquely qualified to do – provide high-quality care.
Introducing scribes creates additional labor costs, making it vital that organizations investigate the potential benefits, both quantifiable and unquantifiable, and drawbacks. Ultimately, relieving providers of documentation duties frees up considerable time that can be devoted to patient care.
Now, not all organizations will benefit from using scribes. Practices and needs vary across provider groups and care settings. With that said, we find that there are generally four types of providers who should seriously consider scribes:
- High-volume providers with significant throughput needs.
- Medical and surgical subspecialists whose need for specialty-specific documentation tools, content, and functionality have not been addressed by traditionally designed EHR systems.
- Providers who require extensive health histories taken by the physician instead of during the nurse intake process.
- Providers who struggle with technology but provide high-quality, cost-effective care.
The documentation requirements that accompany EHR implementation and utilization have created a contentious relationship between clinician and computer. The result is growing frustration with EHR systems. The good news is that these negative attitudes are reversible with the right solutions in place. If you want your EHR system to become an asset for quality improvement, as opposed to a high-tech headache, contact the healthcare IT experts at ECG Management Consultants, Inc.
To learn more about medical scribe utilization, see our Executive Briefing.