Medical scribe benefits in a large practice

Medical Scribe Benefits: Why Use Scribes in Large Medical Practice Settings?

Wondering how a medical scribe benefits those in large medical practice settings? This article explores the answer.

When a Director of Operations for a large medical practice or medical group begins to see inefficiencies within their practices, it is proactive to find the quantitative data to figure out the best course of action to improve the current standing. The best way to go about this is to look at the practice(s) as a human body. If a certain body system begins to fail, the entire body begins to have issues. For example, let’s compare the physicians of a practice to the thyroid. If the thyroid levels become too low, like a physician feeling burnt out, the human body and physicians become slower and more tired which can lead to burnout. Severe cases of hypothyroidism can lead to myxedema which can lead to death, just as burnout can lead to the physician leaving the practice or retiring early from his/her practice.


As the Director of Operations looks through the whole practice to find the root problem(s), they will need to look at all aspects from the front staff workflow, back staff workflow, physician workflow, etc. One of the components of a practice that affects it the most is the physician(s) that work in it. Just as the thyroid controls the energy to keep many of your body systems and parts working correctly, a medical practice will not run properly without a well-maintained physician, whose purpose is to help an individual navigate to good health and stay healthy and prevent diseases. There are specific “pain points” that can be occurring within a practice that affects the physicians the most, that pinpoints the need for medical scribes.


Medical Scribe Benefits for Large Practices

These pain points can also be the identifiers for the monetary value that a scribe program can bring to a practice such as:


1. Wait times being long due to the physician being backed up:

Freeing a physician’s time plus their willingness to see additional patients during that newfound free time will help to increase efficiency, improve patient access and increase revenue.[i] The use of a medical scribe benefits on-time visits by improving them by around 30%.[1] Increasing on-time visits can lead to more referrals and better patient reviews.


2. The NP or PAs completing the physician charting instead of doing their own patient visits:

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants have been used as medical scribes in the past and in some settings still currently. It must be noted that a practice can not combine the work of an NP/PA when they are acting as a scribe with that of a physician and bill it under the MD’s NPI. The provider who bills for the services is expected to be the person delivering the services and creating the record.[2] The average base salary for an NP or PA is around the range of $82,000-112,000 a year[3]. The cost of a medical scribe is around $45,120, dependent on the hours needed for the practice. Based on this brief cost analysis, it reveals how much a medical scribe will be more cost-effective than the latter, a minimum savings of $36,880 which doesn’t include the patient visits the NP or PA could actually be doing themselves instead of scribing for the physician.


3. Inefficiencies in the time spent in the EHR versus patient encounters during the clinical hours:

Physicians in ambulatory settings currently spend an average of 73% of their clinical day doing non-clinical administrative tasks.[4] Scrivas scribes can help save physicians as much as 3 hours in a clinical day. That additional time allows the physician to be able to see more patients and still get home on time.


4. Physician burnout aspects such as:

    • After-hours charting: The top 2 reasons why physicians are feeling burned out is the fact of too much paperwork and regulations and working too many hours with a poor work-life balance.[5]
    • General complaints from the physicians that can lead to possible turnover situations: In a recent and alarming statistic, 94% of physicians have felt burned out at one point in their career, with 80% of physicians feeling burned out as of September 2021.[6] During that same survey results, answers to the question, “How has burnout affected your career,” answers like: “At times it does not feel like I’m making the difference I originally wanted to make and I question if all this stress is worth it.” And “It has made me resentful of my career choice and I steer others away from it.”[7] A new study by Jackson Physician Search found that 54% of employed physicians are ready to make major career decisions with 50 % saying they are planning to switch employers.[8] The cost of physician turnover is extremely high- ranging from $500,000 to more than $1 million per doctor. This estimate includes recruitment, sign-on bonus, lost billings, and onboarding costs for replacement physicians.[9]


Is ignoring the continued and worsening signs of the underlying problems affecting physicians worth the cost that will affect the large medical practices and/or medical groups?

Medical scribes can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Stay tuned for the next blog that outlines the simple and proven method for calculating ROI for medical scribes.

Written by: Nicole Bramblett, MHA