Medical scribes reduce documentation time by 3.2 minutes per patient encounter

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One of the main complaints about electronic medical records (EMRs) from physicians is the time documentation takes away from the patient visit. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology, researchers evaluate the effect medical scribes have on clinical documentation.

While EMRs have the potential to increase efficiency, documentation has increased physician burnout and decreased job satisfaction. In this study, researchers evaluated how employing medical scribes affects clinical documentation time and physician satisfaction.

Led by Vinod Manbudiri, MD, researchers used a quality improvement program in dermatology offices to measure documentation time before and after the programs implementation. The study enrolled 39 dermatologists, 12 of which received a scribe in 19 weekly half-day sessions. Each scribe was enrolled in dermatology-specific training and shadowed a lead scribe to learn documentation preferences.

Results showed that before the program's implementation, the average time spent doing clinical documentation was 60 to 89 minutes a session with 30 percent of physicians spending more than two hours per session. After implementation, dermatologists were able to reduce documentation time to 36 minutes per session, which equated to 3.2 fewer minutes per patient encounter.