ER Medical scribes have become a vital asset in fast-paced environments like emergency rooms (ERs), assisting physicians during patient visits and providing real-time charting. With the increasing demands on emergency physicians and the advent of technology, medical scribes have evolved from being physically present in the ED to working remotely from different corners of the world. ER scribes provide real-time charting with the goal of maximizing the physician’s workflow efficiency.
The Early Adoption of Scribes in the ED
Dr. Louis Saldana, an emergency room physician from Dallas, Texas, is credited with introducing medical scribes in the ED even before the era of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Even in the paper-based world, medical scribes proved to be an effective strategy in increasing efficiency by 25% while enhancing both provider and patient experiences. And today in this digital world, medical scribes are a growing trend and a valuable addition to the ED team, enabling emergency physicians to offer prompt and responsive care to patients.
Addressing the Need for Scribes in an ED
Overcrowding in the ED is a common challenge that can lead to undesirable consequences, making it difficult for emergency physicians to provide timely and high-quality care to patients. The overwhelming administrative workload, especially documentation, significantly contributes to extended patient stays. On average, emergency physicians spend 90 to 120 minutes in an 8-hour shift on documentation, impacting their overall productivity. To ease this documentation burden and improve ED patient flow, the use of scribes has been proposed as a promising solution.
Tackling Click Overload in the ED
In the fast-paced environment of an emergency room, even seemingly simple tasks can become sources of frustration for emergency physicians. For instance, ordering a painkiller like Ibuprofen may require multiple mouse clicks. Additionally, prescribing medications for female patients triggers safety alerts, leading to a few more clicks for the physician to override the warnings. On average, an emergency room physician makes more than 4000 clicks per shift, which can be incredibly intimidating and time-consuming. Medical scribes offer a valuable solution by freeing emergency physicians from this endless clicking task, allowing them to focus their attention on patients who require immediate care.
Alleviating Burnout Among ED Physicians
The demanding and emotionally challenging nature of the ED environment makes emergency physicians highly susceptible to burnout. Inconsistent work hours, extended shifts, and extensive documentation tasks contribute to increased stress levels, further exacerbating the issue. Utilizing medical scribes to handle documentation tasks can significantly reduce burnout by allowing emergency physicians to concentrate on addressing the acute needs of their patients instead of inputting patient data. Studies have shown that the use of medical scribes not only reduces the documentation burden, but is also a potential better option for preventing burnout.
Effect of Scribes in the ED
Various studies have demonstrated the positive impact of medical scribes in the ED:
1. A study evaluating the cost-effectiveness of scribes found that when paired with a scribe, emergency physicians spent significantly less time on documentation, making the use of scribes a cost-effective solution for ED documentation.
2. Another retrospective study indicated that the use of scribes improved physician productivity, leading to an increase in the number of patients treated per hour and RVUs generated per hour.
3. Yet another study conducted in an Australian ED revealed a 13% increase in consultations per hour with the assistance of scribes, showcasing the significant effect of scribes on enhancing ED productivity.
Medical scribes have proven to be indispensable in maximizing efficiency, improving patient care, and alleviating burnout in the emergency room. By offloading documentation tasks and administrative work, scribes enable emergency physicians to focus on delivering exceptional care to their patients. As the demand for efficient and patient-centric healthcare continues to grow, medical scribes will continue to be an invaluable addition to emergency rooms worldwide, revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered in the ED setting.