What Do Physicians Think of Medical Scribes?

A few years back Dr. Jim Pagano published a guest blog post on KevinMD.com about medical scribes that prompted quite a lot of discussion, suggesting that scribes are a hot button topic that piques the interest of many physicians.

And indeed, when physicians are asked directly about scribes, this suggestion is borne out. Sermo.com, a large online community of physicians, on March 24, 2014 conducted a poll that asked physicians how they felt about medical scribes. (You’ll have to scroll to find the poll on their Weekly Poll page.) The results are shown in the image below:

Sermo.com Medical Scribe Poll Results, March 2014

Sermo.com Poll Results, March 24, 2014

There are some interesting findings in these results:

  • Over 77% of physicians were familiar with medical scribes
  • Of those physicians, only 17% had actually used scribes (though over half of those “love them”)
  • Meaning 82% of physicians who were familiar with scribes have yet to actually work with one
  • Of those physicians, a little more than half said they’d like to try working with a scribe (great!), but a little less than half said they didn’t want to work with a scribe because “I want full control of my patient records”

That last result merits a comment. It’s a common misconception that medical scribes somehow cause the physician to “lose control” of their chart. In reality, this isn’t true. A medical scribe is just that—a scribe. They are trained to put into the patient record only what the physician tells them to. If the physician doesn’t say it, it doesn’t go in the chart. So even though another person is doing the typing (freeing the physician to focus on the patient), the doctor remains in complete control of what goes in the chart. And ultimately, the physician reviews and signs off on the chart after the patient encounter.

I hope as medical scribes become more widely known (23% not familiar with scribes, I’m looking at you!), that this basic fact about medical scribes becomes better understood. And I hope those 724 physicians who said they wanted full control of their chart and therefore wouldn’t try a scribe will reconsider.

As it happens, I know a great scribe company that would be happy to help.