Buddy, can you spare a scribe?

Interesting NY Times story on the increasing use of scribes by physicians – you know, those who claim to be “doctors.”

Three weeks of training gets you a scribe that follows you around with a laptop in hand and takes notes on your interactions with patients, with the scribe company charging $25 per hour ($8-$16 for the scribe). Sounds like something academics could use: there don’t seem to be nearly enough research assistants floating around. Only problem: that going rate is a bit high.

"Tell me where it hurts."

“Tell me where it hurts.”

Apparently all the computerization is one of the biggest complaints among physicians. A money quote from the article: “recent article in the journal Health Affairs concluded that two-thirds of a primary care physician’s day was spent on clerical work that could be done by someone else; among the recommended solutions was the hiring of scribes.

From one doctor to another, I hear ya. Though History must be more challenging, because I’ve had limited success getting some of my department’s past office workers to do much more than photocopy.

Computerized medical records were supposed to make everything efficient, but I guess they forgot the lowly data-entry clerk. I didn’t. So now we’re going back to the days when secretaries actually did typing for doctors, at least the medical kind. Funny how technology sometimes takes you in circles.

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2 responses to “Buddy, can you spare a scribe?”

  1. Martin Gibson says :

    I’m going to stick my neck out here and predict that the beneficiaries of this trend won’t include the patients.

  2. Erik Lund says :

    Step 1: Reasonably smart person tags along after doctor taking notes, who is too busy for that stuff with the important things. Like contributing to Congressional campaigns. At some point, doctor says, “Here, hold this.”
    Step 2: “The doctor’s busy right now, but I can handle the simple stuff. Here’s the doctor’s bill, by the way.”
    Step 3: Doctor’s oldest child: “Medical school sucks! Why can’t I just let the scribes do the icky stuff and hang out on the Gold Coast?”
    Step 4: A law is passed requiring four genealogical quarterings of M.D. for anyone who wants to be a doctor.
    Step 5: Can’t we just skip ahead to the guillotines already?

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