It’s one of the great ironies of the 21st century that a tool that was supposed to make us faster and more efficient—information technology—can also result in a lot of wasted time. People in offices check their social media accounts while at work, drivers get into accidents consulting their phones rather than keep their eyes on the road, and doctors and nurse practitioners sit in front of computers, entering medical data rather than dealing with the person in need of medical attention that’s right in the same room with them.
There are many cases when the data entry aspect of electronic health records feel like just an extra task that is pulling medical staff away from what should be the primary activity, actual medical care. And yet, at the same time, the EHR should not be regarded as just a useless time sink designed to brush up your typing skills. Nor should it be viewed simply as some kind of “punishment” that must be endured after a patient consultation if there’s no time to fill in the record during the consultation.
The electronic health record exists to be a digital document that anyone can easily access if they need to. It eliminates the problems of important medical aspects for a patient only being available in a filing cabinet with the family doctor. Anyone who has ever dealt with a patient with chronic problems already knows the benefit of seeing the EHR with all this information already available to speed up the treatment process. But, time can be lost in making sure the record is updated to remain current.
This is just one more way that a medical scribe can ease the treatment process. Scribes are proficient at working with EHRs and they will see to it that not only is the appropriate information channeled to you from a comprehensive EHR, they will focus on updating it while you focus on the patient. It’s very easy to see maintaining an EHR in the heat of the moment as troublesome, perhaps even detrimental to the patient’s immediate needs. But in the long term, it benefits everyone—the patient most of all—from having someone take the time to make sure the records are accurate and up to date. It may not seem like it at the time, when an electronic form is sitting on screen, but it can mean the difference between another doctor conducting an unnecessary examination, and a doctor immediately seeing what already works best for a patient.
Filling out an EHR might slow you down, but it won’t slow down a scribe. And it will help everyone to do it right, when it counts.