Physician burnout is a pressing issue, with excessive charting and paperwork resulting from the widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) identified as a significant contributor. The demanding nature of EHRs not only hurts physician-patient relationships but also consumes valuable time outside of work hours. According to a research published in JAMA Internal Medicine physicians spend nearly two hours in a day on EHR tasks outside work. It is at this point physicians started looking for solutions to delegate their EHR documentation responsibilities, which led to the emergence of virtual medical scribes as a viable option. Virtual scribes can assist physicians by assuming clerical tasks, saving time, and increasing efficiency. This blog post discusses research studies on the link between excessive documentation and physician burnout, supports the use of virtual medical scribes in reducing burnout, and explores how they can alleviate physician burnout.

Research studies on the link between excessive documentation and physician burnout:

Numerous studies have highlighted the detrimental impact of excessive documentation on physician burnout:

– A cross-sectional, observational study in clinics of 10 family medicine residency programs found that primary care physicians spent more time on EHR documentation tasks than interacting with patients.

Medscape surveys consistently identify excessive paperwork as the leading contributor to physician burnout.

Research indicates that the clerical strain induced by EHRs is a major cause of burnout. Introducing virtual medical scribes who document clinical information in real-time can help physicians spend more time with patients and less time with computers. Just like how judges are not required to record courtroom proceedings, physicians should also not spend excessive amount of time documenting patient encounters.

Reports supporting the need of medical scribes in reducing physician burnout:

Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of virtual medical scribes in reducing documentation burden and addressing physician burnout:

– A study conducted at Kaiser Permanente showed that virtual medical scribes significantly reduced physician documentation burden while improving clinical efficiency, workflow, and physician-patient interactions.

– The American Medical Association (AMA) conducted a study suggesting that medical scribes effectively alleviate documentation burden among primary care physicians.

– A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that medical scribes reduce EHR documentation burden, improve productivity, patient interactions, and physician job satisfaction.

– According to a study published in JAMIA Open, medical scribes increase provider job satisfaction and lower provider burnout because they ease the documentation burden.

How virtual medical scribes can alleviate physician burnout:

Virtual medical scribes offer several benefits that can help alleviate physician burnout:

– By freeing physicians from repetitive and time-consuming EHR data-entry tasks, scribes enable them to spend more time with patients, reducing the likelihood of burnout.

– The use of scribes has been shown to decrease patient wait times and enhance patient satisfaction. This in turn contributes to physician satisfaction. Satisfied and happy physicians are less susceptible to experiencing symptoms of burnout.

– Physicians can schedule more patient visits without working extra hours, leading to increased revenue and reduced stress levels.

– With virtual scribes completing documentation in real-time, physicians no longer need to stay after work or take work home to complete charts. This reduces after-hours work and is associated with less burnout.


Physician burnout, exacerbated by the demands of EHR documentation, has become a significant concern. Virtual medical scribes offer a solution by providing administrative support, allowing physicians to spend more quality time with patients. Research studies consistently demonstrate the positive impact of virtual scribes in reducing documentation burden, improving efficiency, and alleviating burnout. By leveraging virtual medical scribes, physicians can regain work-life balance, enjoy practicing medicine, and provide better patient care. Adopting virtual scribes as part of the healthcare team can effectively heal the healers and mitigate the detrimental effects of burnout.

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