If there’s one thing that most patients dislike, it is the chance to finally meet with a doctor, only to feel like the doctor isn’t actually paying attention to them or their problem. Many patients have expressed concerns when they see a doctor diligently taking notes, or sitting at the computer, staring at the screen and typing, apparently only paying half of their attention to the person in front of them while the other, seemingly more pressing half is focused on some kind of documentation.
Of course, the problem is the patient doesn’t really understand what’s going on. They don’t know that you may be trying to write down their condition, or consult their EHR and update it with their latest problem. All they really know is they came in to see someone and that someone appears very, very busy. And that’s true. In the span of one visit, a doctor or nurse is expected to manage an incredible number of tasks, all while trying to provide a solution to a medical problem as compassionately and as quickly as possible, so as to move onto the next patient.
A professional medical scribe changes things dramatically during a consultation. By taking on the responsibilities for documenting and updating the EHR they provide the luxury of time. You, as a doctor or nurse practitioner, now have the time to focus on the patient, look them in the eye, and carefully hear out their concerns. Your attention no longer needs to be divided. It may seem like a small thing, but it makes a huge difference to the overall quality of a medical consultation, and means that the patient feels like they are being heard and attended to, rather than being processed.
Listening to your patients is important not just for them, but for you. It grounds medical practitioners in the moment, and reinforces that these are people being dealt with, in need of compassion as much as medical attention. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the bureaucracy of organizing data, and it’s important to take it down, but it’s also important to remember that there is a person at the center of all that data being accumulated. Take the time to really see and hear the person coming to you for help. Let a scribe focus on the particulars so that you can focus on the person, and that way the best of both worlds in a medical consultation is preserved. A patient gets your attention, while the information gets the scribe’s.