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Which Specialties Benefit the Most from Medical Scribes?

Are Medical Scribes best for your specialty?

Ask any physician practicing medicine today and we’re willing to bet you’d get the same answer: when they decided to dedicate their lives and time to becoming a Medical Doctor, they didn’t do it to be bogged down with endless hours of charting and documentation.

No matter which specialty path they have chosen, documentation demands on doctors are only getting worse—and more clinicians than ever are taking back their time with the help of Medical Scribes.

Take it from Neda Laiteerapong MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. In the article, “Physician Productivity Gains Offset Cost of Medical Scribes,” she said, “The idea that you have to see more patients can be really scary. But the idea is that you’re actually spending that time more focused on the patient. A Scribe allows doctors to focus on thinking and talking and listening, and not on the typing and clicking and ordering. I don’t know anyone who became a doctor to do those things.”

But among the physicians seeking assistance, which specialties are subscribing to the idea of Scribes the most? Let’s start with a broader scope. Among all practicing physicians today, nearly one in five is employing a Medical Scribe, according to journalist Sarah Kwon in her recent article, “To Free Doctors from Computers, Far-Flung Scribes Are Now Taking Notes for Them.”  

“Doctors find entering notes and data into poorly designed EHR software cumbersome and time-consuming,” Kwon writes. “So scribing is a fast-growing field in the U.S. with the workforce expanding from 15,000 in 2015 to an estimated 100,000 this year.”

When we break down the Scribe usage by specialty, there seems to be a clear correlation between the number of patients a specialist sees in a day and the likelihood that said specialist is using some sort of Scribe—whether it’s a traditional in-person Medical Scribe, a Virtual Scribe, a Transcriptionist or an Artificial Intelligence Scribe.

Take, for example, ENT physicians. With upwards of 40 to 50 patients per day, keeping up with charting and documentation is an uphill battle. It’s no wonder that they’re one of the top specialties to rely upon the assistance of a Scribe. Beyond ENTs, other specialties that make up the majority of Scribe employers include Dermatologists, Gastroenterologists, Family Practice, Internal Medicine, and Pain Management.

While the hourly rate of any given Scribe can vary, according to Kwon, physicians continue to realize that it’s a small price to pay for the invaluable gift of more time. “The service typically costs physicians $12 to $25 an hour,” she writes. “And studies show how Scribe use is linked to less time on patient documentation, higher job satisfaction and seeing more patients—which can mean more revenue.”

Speaking of more revenue, it’s something that nearly every specialty physician is seeing once they begin using a Scribe. According to Dr. Laiteerapong, “Scribes can help a practice add up to 20% more visits, which increases patient satisfaction. That is valuable to patients, who have increases access, and to providers who are able to do what they were trained to do, which is take care of patients, not paperwork.”

The article further added, “The increased number of new patients varied with specialties, from 0.89% per day in cardiology to 2.78 new visits per day with orthopedic surgery. The addition of two new patient visits per day or three returning patient visits was profitable for all specialists.”

Beyond the number of patients seen per day, the notorious documentation demands seem to go hand-in-hand with which specialties are using Scribes. In fact, according to an AMA article titled, “Physician Burnout: It’s Not You, It’s Your Medical Specialty,” a survey of more than 15,000 physicians from 29 specialties concluded that the following physicians report the highest percentages of burnout:

  • Critical Care: 48 percent
  • Neurology: 48 percent
  • Family Medicine: 47 percent
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology: 46 percent
  • Internal Medicine: 46 percent
  • Emergency Medicine: 45 percent

While there has not been a documented surge of a particular specialty in terms of Scribe usage, there are certainly patterns that ultimately play a part. From number of patients seen per day to the amount of documentation required, more specialty physicians than ever before are choosing to seek out a Scribe—and take back their time in the process.

 

Physicians Angels is the industry’s first virtual scribe company, providing real-time documentation directly into the physician’s EMR, along with Virtual Back Office services. Our services save the physician an average of 10 hours per week, thereby improving patient throughput and contributing to a better work/life balance for the physician and office staff. To learn more, visit physiciansangels.com or contact us.

About the author

Physicians Angels

More time for physicians to see more patients, provide better care, and live their lives. Physicians Angels provides one-of-a-kind EMR data management services to healthcare providers through our real time Virtual Scribe service.