Medical Scribes Increasingly in Demand as Providers Switch to EHRs

May 14, 2015 in News

Health care providers are increasingly hiring medical scribes, in large part because of the growing adoption of electronic health record systems, Marketplace reports (Bryan, Marketplace, 5/12).

About Medical Scribes

Medical scribes typically are medical students, and they earn $8 to $16 an hour. Their daily responsibilities include being able to:

  • Correctly input medical terminology and billing code data;
  • Easily adapt to various EHR platforms; and
  • Quickly record physician notes during patient examinations.

Physicians still are responsible for what is in patients’ medical records and therefore must review the information (iHealthBeat, 4/21/14).

Amy Tortorich, an emergency department physician at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, said that using medical scribes allows her to see more patients.

Increasing Demand With EHR Adoption

According to Marketplace, the increasing use of EHRs, spurred in part by the meaningful use program, has increased demand for medical scribes.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

For example, Scribe America — one of the largest medical scribe companies in the U.S. — has tripled its number of employees to nearly 7,500 over the past year, according to COO Sarah Lamb.

Meanwhile, the American College of Medical Scribe Specialists estimates that the number of medical scribes in the U.S. will increase from about 20,000 today to about 100,000 by 2020.

Some Express Concerns

However, George Gellert, medical informatics officer at Christus Health Systems, said that physicians interacting less with EHR systems because of medical scribes could slow the advancement of EHR technology.

He argued in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association article that it is in the U.S. health system’s best interest to have physicians interacting directly with EHRs — even if they can be time consuming and frustrating — so they are more invested in improving the products (Marketplace, 5/12).

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