Why Have Scribes Taken Off?

Medical scribes are still a very new profession, one which got its start within the last decade or so.  However, in just that short time, interest in scribes has exploded, and a significant percentage of medical facilities throughout America now employ scribes to assist physicians with taking notes, setting up appointments, retrieving test results, and other aspects of medical busywork that don’t demand a licensed doctor’s personal attention.  But where exactly did this profession come from, and why is it only catching on now?

It Started In The Emergency Department

Out of any wing in the hospital, time is never as critical as it is in the emergency department.  People only come in through the emergency entrance because they have some problem that can’t wait for a scheduled appointment, and there’s a very good chance that delaying care will result in death or a permanent injury.  However, like every other part of the American health care industry, the physicians and nurses who staff the ED have to deal with piles of paperwork and regulations which are meant to keep patients safe but which can place a burden on medical professionals.

In response to this growing need to make an inefficient system efficient, emergency departments began employing medical students as scribes, individuals with the expertise to handle medical jargon but who wouldn’t cost the department as much as a new doctor would.  As a result, the licensed physicians had more time to spend on their patients and more time to see more patients.  In one example, scribes from our company, ProScribe, have allowed three EDs to reduce their average door-to-provider time from 28-39 minutes down to 4-8 minutes over the course of just 15 months.

It Spread With EHR

Starting in the late 2000s, electronic health records, or EHR, have started to spread throughout the medical industry.  However, while electronic records have their benefits, they also make it harder for physicians to spend time with their patients when they also have to spend time with a cumbersome computer program.  Scribes are allowing doctors to return to their patients by taking on the task of transcribing notes, and they can also help around the office by acting in a secretarial role.

If recent trends are any indication, it’s likely that the paperwork load on the health care industry will only go up with time, and that’s even if they do eventually come up with an EHR system that’s more streamlined than it is today.  Bringing professional scribes like the ones ProScribe won’t just increase your productivity, it can also help you stay ahead of the curve.