The days of a quickly written and barely legible assessment of your clinic patients are long gone. There are certainly pros and cons regarding the evolution of more thorough medical documentation. Advantages aside, medical documentation (especially of the “Electronic” variety) is awkward, slow, repetitive, and impersonal. Assuming your practice has already made the transition to an electronic health record, you have probably seen a significant drop in productivity and a decline in provider satisfaction.

These are the 2 fundamental considerations in evaluating whether a medical scribe would benefit your practice:

  1. What is the Financial impact of using a Medical Scribe?
  2. Is there a Lifestyle improvement from using a Medical Scribe?

The easiest consideration to evaluate is the financial impact. It’s so easy to analyze that most doctors can even do the math (btw, I’m an MD). Since the nation’s top scribe companies charge a flat hourly rate and most practices know how much they collect per patient, the equation can be this simple:

(Daily Scribe Cost) is less than, equal to, or greater than (Additional Daily Revenue).

Financial Assumptions:

  • Let’s assume a scribe cost of ($20) per hour. So, our Daily Scribe Cost is 8 hours times $20 = $160/day.
  • To keep the math simple, we will estimate a collection rate of $80 per patient. A practice would only need to see 2 additional patients to collect $160 to make the financial impact neutral.

The scribe industry has evolved rapidly over the past 5 years and the benefit of using a national scribe company today is that the scribes are typically employees of your scribe service vendor. All of the insurance costs, training expenses, health and 401k expenses, HR responsibilities, and more fall on the backs of the scribe companies. So, the financial and training burdens are not felt by your practice.

Now, let’s talk about lifestyle improvements.  Based on different estimates, providers click an EMR between 750-4000 times during a full day in the clinic or hospital. Most outpatient providers are forced to stay late, work through lunch, or complete charting from home in the evenings and weekends.

Lifestyle Assumptions:

  • Using a scribe will eliminate after-hours charting
  • Using a scribe will help assure that charts are completed daily
  • Using a scribe will allow you to spend more time with your patients

It is hard to put a price on time spent documenting during off hours, but let’s agree that getting charts done by the end of the day is better than completing them at night and on the weekends.

There is certainly more to the process of deciding whether to use scribes in your practice than just lifestyle improvements and financial considerations. However, with the growing compliance and documentation requirements being added to EHRs, practices must find innovative ways to ease physician burnout and improve productivity. From my perspective, a scribe makes perfect sense and I will absolutely never work clinically again without one.

If you are interested in hiring a medical scribe and would like more information, please fill out a contact form or call 888-991-1773 to speak with a ProScribe team member today.


– Tim Taylor, MD FACEP

Tim Taylor, MD FACEP

Author Tim Taylor, MD FACEP

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