Medical Scribes Reduce EHR Burden, Boost Physician Satisfaction in Primary Care

The use of medical scribes in primary care can reduce the electronic health record (EHR) documentation burden for clinicians, improve workflow and job satisfaction, and enhance clinician-patient interaction, a small crossover study suggests.  This is the conclusion of a recent study conducted b, Pranita Mishra, MPP, and colleagues from Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.  The 12-month study evaluated whether the use of medical scribes would mitigate the negative impact of EHR technology in primary care. They report their findings in an article published September 17 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Here are some of the findings outlined in the study:

From the physicians perspective:

  • Less time spent on after-hours EHR documentation.
  • More appointment time interacting with patients/Less appointment time on documentation
  • 17 out of 18 physicians reported higher job satisfaction
  • 16 out of 18 physicians report better clinical interactions
  • No change in the length of clinic visit
  • Significantly higher liklihood that physicians would meet their target time for completion of their visit documentation

From the patients perspective:

  • More than half the patients felt their clinician spent less time than usual on the computer
  • Nearly half reported their doctor spent more time interacting with them when a scribe was present
  • Patient-reported satisfaction scores were modestly improved with scribes, but the difference did not reach statistical significance.