Medical Scribes

From Ann Blankenship, STC member

The job of medical scribe requires knowledge of medical terminology and might be a way for a technical writer to enter medical writing. Even though, based on preliminary web research, the most desired scribes are medical students, a technical writer that is well versed in medical terminology might be able to do the job.

Ann Blankenship encountered a medical scribe in Houston, as her husband was examined by a doctor with a medical scribe at Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital.

A Busy Doctor’s Right Hand, Ever Ready to Type

This article appeared in the New York Times on January 12, 2014. A summary of the article appears below.

Instead of concentrating on clerical entry while examining patients, a medical scribe updates the chart and the medical data, allowing the physician to concentrate on the patient. While medical transcription is not new, having a medical scribe in attendance has decreased the time for physician notes to appear on the patient records.

ScribeAmerica, based in Aventura Florida, supplies scribes to hospitals and medical practices. Dr. Michael Murphy, ScribeAmerica’s chief executive, deploys 3500 scribes from his company to clinics and emergency departments.

Training for scribes generally takes 15 to 21 days, and is done by the company. PhysAssist is a company in Fort Worth that deploys medical scribes. Scribes are paid by the physicians, who pay the company $20-$25 an hour, with the scribes earning $8 to $16 an hour. However, medical scribes, by easing the paperwork burden, allow most physicians to see more patients a day.

Some physicians and patients cite privacy concerns. The cost of hiring a scribe, borne largely by the physicians themselves, is also a concern. Companies typically charge $20 to $25 per hour for scribes, who in turn are paid $8 to $16 per hour. Yet physicians who use scribes say they come out even, or ahead, financially, as they can see up to four extra patients a day.