Insights From Our Editors

Reader Survey Results: How Many Of You Use Scribes?

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns OD, FCOVD

April 13, 2022

Scribes can improve the office experience for both doctors and patients, but are not for everyone. HERE are the results of a recent polli which Women in Optometry and Review of Optometric Business collaborated on to learn how many of our readers use scribes in their practice, along with our tips on how to decide if scribes are right for your practice.

What is a Scribe?
A scribe is a doctor’s assistant who works closely with the provider to create and maintain patients’ medical records. Scribes permit doctors to focus on the patient with fewer distractions from the electronic health record (EHR) system.ii

A scribe can work either on-site or remotely with a HIPAA-secure link to the practice. Scribes who work at an off-site location are known as virtual medical scribes.iii


Workflow
About 75 percent of respondents say the ideal ratio between doctors and scribes is one scribe per doctor. The other 25 percent had varying ratios of two or three scribes per one doctor. Six percent told us that they assign three or more scribes per doctor.

Some practices link the scribe with the doctor so that the scribe stays with the doctor all day. Other practices train the scribe to follow the patient on their entire journey through the practice. The scribe greets the patient and takes the pre-examination history, does the pre-testing, scribes in the exam room, sits in on the patient consultation, then takes the patient to the optical and functions as the optician. This approach generally requires three scribes per doctor in order to best manage the patient workflow.

Why Not Use Scribes?
Since the use of scribes allows the doctor to constantly face the patient and never have to turn away from a patient to make notes in the EHR, here are the main reasons someone would not use a scribe:

1) The practice expenses are out of control, and, therefore, the practice cannot afford to hire a scribe.
2) The doctor is not comfortable with someone else in the exam room.
3) The doctor does not like to delegate.
4) The doctor does not like change.

These are all valid reasons. There are many ways to practice. Ensure excellent patient care is being delivered, then choose the right way for you.

References
i. The Scribe Vibe: Slightly More ODs Say They Don’t Use Scribes | Women In Optometry
ii. What is Scribing and How Can It Benefit the Premed? – Medical School HQ
iii. Medical scribe – Wikipedia

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