Clinic Operations

Should Your Urgent Care Use a Medical Scribe?

Should Your Urgent Care Use a Medical Scribe?

Use of a medical scribe is largely determined by the size of your urgent care operation and provider preferences. Smaller practices often view hiring a medical scribe as an unnecessary expense that should remain in the hands of the provider while larger practices tend to view a dedicated medical scribe as invaluable for quick chart completion and higher patient satisfaction. Whether these views resonate with you or not, your final decision on a medical scribe ought to be led by business inputs rather than personal preferences.

What do the Statistics Show?

Medical scribes are becoming a common, relevant face in healthcare. Along with the rise in use of EMRs, scribes are more frequently seen as firmly aligned to the process for faster turnaround payments, better patient experience, and higher quality care.

Is a Medical Scribe Right for You?

Urgent care owners should investigate the legal, ethical and security considerations before making a decision to hire a medical scribe. Since scribes are a relatively new phenomenon in healthcare, you are likely to encounter differing regulatory requirements concerning the role of medical scribes. With differing state regulations, scribes may have more responsibilities in one urgent care setting yet face greater restrictions in another.

It is important to review applicable state laws to ensure compliance and proper use of scribes by providers. For example, medical scribes must meet all information management, HIPAA, HITECH, confidentiality, and patient rights standards.

Ultimately, a medical scribe’s responsibilities are controlled by the policies you establish in your practice, and in particular, the level of risk you are willing to accept.

The Choice of a Medical Scribe: Pros and Cons

Pros: medical scribes capture vital information at the point of care, which frees up the physician, allowing for a number of operational benefits:

  • Physician-Patient Focus. More time can be given to bedside manners due to a reduction in documentation time. Patients can receive more hands-on, attentive care from their physician increasing both patient and provider satisfaction.
  • Boost in Physician Morale. Many providers must develop new learning curves to match upgraded systems which increases provider frustrations. Scribes can help reduce the pressures by assuming specific documentation responsibilities.
  • Provider Efficiency and Productivity. With a successful clinical workflow, providers may see more patients and receive quicker reimbursements, generating additional revenue for the practice.
  • Higher Quality of Care. Improved documentation can induce higher rates of diagnoses granting more targeted treatment plans. This can improve patient compliance and promote higher quality of care.

Cons: accuracy of documentation, scribe training and patient comfort level are some important factors for consideration:

  • Scribes in the examining room may impact patient comfort level and overall quality of care. Patients may become less forthcoming with personal information reducing the ability for accurate diagnosis.
  • Documentation workflows will need to be redefined and responsibilities identified to streamline operations.
  • Monitoring for errors is still necessary and some providers may not take the time to review scribed entries for accuracy.
  • Physician review of scribed documentation for accuracy may slow down overall workflow.

Once you decide to use a medical scribe in your urgent care practice, ensure the role is managed and maintained with applicable policies and procedures for quality assurance.

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