Research Articals

Are Medical Scribes Worth the Investment?

Russ Harris, MD, and Mark Switaj, MBA. Beckers Hospital Review

Are scribes really worth it? It’s a question that has likely come up for many a hospital administrator. Now a study gauging the cost/benefit ratio of medical scribes has been completed. The landmark project, which actually was titled “Are Scribes Worth It?” concluded that scribe programs can greatly assist higher acuity emergency departments that are struggling with long patient stays, a high percent of patients leaving without treatment and challenging electronic medical record systems. Some medical scribe programs, according to the study, actually more than pay for themselves.



Scribe Impacts on Provider Experience, Operations, and Teaching in an Academic Emergency Medicine Practice

Jeremy J. Hess, MD, MPH, Joshua Wallenstein, MD, Jeremy D. Ackerman, MD, Ph.D., Murtaza Akhter, MD, Douglas Ander, MD, Matthew T. Keadey, MD, and James P. Capes, MD. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine

Physicians dedicate substantial time to documentation. Scribes are sometimes used to improve efficiency by performing documentation tasks, although their impacts have not been prospectively evaluated. Our objective was to assess a scribe program’s impact on emergency department (ED) throughput, physician time utilization, and job satisfaction in a large academic emergency medicine practice. Scribes were well received in our practice. Documentation time was substantially reduced and redirected primarily to patient care. Despite an ED volume increase, LOS was maintained, with fewer patients leaving against medical advice but more leaving without being seen. RVUs per hour and per patient both increased.





  • The use of medical scribes in healthcare settings: a systematic review and future directions.

  • Cameron G. Shultz, Ph.D., MSW and Heather L. Holmstrom, MD. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine
  •         Available evidence suggests medical scribes may improve clinician satisfaction, productivity, time-related efficiencies, revenue, and patient-clinician interactions. Because the number of studies is small, and because each study suffered important limitations, confidence in the reliability of the evidence is significantly constrained. Given the nascent state of the science, methodologically rigorous and sufficiently powered studies are greatly needed.




  • EMRs Create Need for More Medical Scribes

  • Jaimie Oh. Beckers Hospital Review
  •         Emergency medicine physicians who have already deployed an EMR find it difficult to find time to input data into the systems. Consequently, more physicians are hiring medical school students as scribes to input the data for them. Charging scribes to follow physicians and input data frees up the physicians to focus more on the patients than on documenting health information, which can influence patient satisfaction.



  • An Assessment of Emergency Department Throughput and Provider Satisfaction after the Implementation of a Scribe Program

  • Brandon Allen, Ben Banapoor, Emily C. Weeks, and Thomas Payton. Advances in Emergency Medicine
  •         Through evaluation of prescribe and postscribe implementation, the postscribe time period reflects many throughput improvements not present before scribes began. Scribe Program implementation led to improved ED throughput for discharged patients with further system-wide challenges needing to be addressed for admitted patients.



  • Are Scribes the Missing Link between Physicians and EHRs?

  • Sabrina Rodak. Beckers Hospital Review
  •         Hospitals across the country are implementing electronic health records as they work towards meeting meaningful use requirements and receiving incentive payments. Physicians and other healthcare providers may need to alter their workflow as they transition from paper to electronic records. Physicians in the emergency department, however, may have more difficulty fitting EHRs in their workday due to the fast-paced environment.




  • Impact of scribes on performance indicators in the emergency department.

  • Rajiv Arya MD, Danielle M. Salovich, Pamela Ohman-Strickland Ph.D., Mark A. Merlin DO. Journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
  •         In this retrospective study, EP use of a scribe was associated with improved overall productivity as measured by patients treated per hour (Pt/hr) and RVU generated per hour by EPs, but not as measured by TAT to discharge.



  • The Value of an Integrated Scribe Program for Emergency and Hospitalist Service Lines

  • Andy Mulvey, MD. EmCare
  •         Implementing a door-to-discharge model to manage patients from arrival to the emergency department until hospital discharge is becoming essential to the hospital-based healthcare delivery market.  Two critical challenges to the success of this strategy are recognized: the national, ongoing shortage of physicians both in hospitalist and emergency medicine; and the burden placed on these physicians by hospital electronic medical record (EMR) systems.




  • The Effect and Impact Scribes Can Have on Patient Experience

  • Josh Kosowsky, M.D., FACEP. StuderGroup
  •         The use of scribes is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s healthcare environment as organizations look for ways to improve the efficiency and productivity of practicing physicians. Traditionally, the role of the scribe is to assist with documentation, allowing the physician to focus his or her time on delivering billable services and ensuring that the medical record supports the appropriate level of billing. Today – due in part to the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) – the role of the scribe has evolved and there is increased awareness around the impact that scribes can have on patient experience.