Impact of Scribe Intervention on Documentation in an Outpatient Pediatric Primary Care Practice



      The use of the electronic health record (EHR) has led to physician dissatisfaction, physician burnout, and delays in documentation and billing. Medical scribes can mitigate these unintended consequences by reducing documentation workload and increasing efficiency.


      To study the effects of medical scribes on time to completion of notes and clinician experience, with a focus on time spent charting during clinic and after-hours. We hypothesized that medical scribes in an outpatient pediatric setting would decrease clinician time spent charting, time to finalize encounter notes, and clinician's perceived documentation time.


      This 15-month single-center observational study was carried out with 3 study periods: pre-scribe, with-scribe, and scribe-withheld. Time spent in EHR was extracted by our EHR vendor. Participants completed surveys regarding time spent documenting. Six clinicians (5 physicians, 1 nurse practitioner) participated in this study to trial the implementation of medical scribes.


      EHR time data were collected for 4329 patient visits (2232 pre-scribe, 1888 with-scribe, 209 scribe-withheld periods). Comparing pre-scribe versus with-scribe periods, documentation time per patient decreased by 3-minutes 28-seconds per patient (pre-scribe IQR: 6, with-scribe IQR: 3, P = .028); note timeliness decreased from 0.96 days to 0.26 days (pre-scribe IQR: 0.22, with-scribe IQR: 0.11, P = .028); and clinicians’ estimates of time spent in the EHR decreased by 1.2 hours per clinic session (pre-scribe IQR: 0.5, with-scribe IQR: 0.5, P = .031).


      Medical scribes in an outpatient pediatric setting result in: 1) decreased time spent charting, 2) reduced time to final sign clinic notes, and 3) decrease in clinician's perceived time spent documenting.


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