Use of medical scribes in health care settings

Added May 15, 2020

Citation: Shultz CG, Holmstrom HL. The Use of Medical Scribes in Health Care Settings: A Systematic Review and Future Directions. American Board of Family Medicine. 2015; 28: 371-81.

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare services. The involvement of medical scribes to enter information into electronic health records (EHRs) during healthcare encounters may improve productivity and limit disruption to patient-physician interactions.

In this systematic review the authors searched for effectiveness studies of medical scribes on healthcare productivity, quality and outcomes. They limited their search to studies published in English between 2000 and 2014. Five studies were identified; three assessed scribe use in an emergency department and two were based in an outpatient clinic setting. All of the included studies had a non-randomized design.

What was found: Medical scribes may improve clinician satisfaction, productivity, time-related efficiencies, revenue, and patient-clinician interactions.

Although clinician satisfaction was improved with medical scribes, patient satisfaction typically was unchanged.

What’s uncertain: The number of peer-reviewed studies is small and the quality of research is limited. Consequently, some findings were not consistent and confidence in the reliability of outcomes is significantly constrained.

The financial impacts and the role of medical scribes in primary care are uncertain.


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