Medical scribes may offer a route to improve physician productivity and workflow efficiency with reduced physician time for documentation. To our knowledge, there is no prior literature on medical scribe impact on outpatient pediatric gastroenterology clinic operations. The primary aim of our study was to address this knowledge gap.
Data were collected on encounters conducted by pediatric gastroenterology physicians at a tertiary center, during a summer scribe program. Scribes were trained and attended clinics in a nonrandomized fashion. Clinic efficiency was assessed by patient flow, tracked via the electronic medical record system. Medical note complexity codes, associated work relative value units (wRVUs), and note delinquency were compared between encounters with and without scribes. Patient satisfaction survey scores were compared between groups.
One thousand nine hundred seventy encounters were included. Documented medical note complexity (and wRVUs), note delinquency, patient satisfaction, and perceived overall quality of service were similar between groups. Clinic time for established encounters was statistically shorter with scribes (median 18 vs 21 minutes, P = 0.01), a 14% reduction. No significant difference was noted in new encounter clinic time. The time to note completion was shorter for new encounters with scribes (2 vs 3 days, P = 0.048). More notes were finalized by the third day postencounter when a scribe was present (63% vs 57%, P = 0.02).
The presence of medical scribes was associated with significantly more efficient clinic flow for established encounters and modest improvements in note completion rate. There were no measurable negative effects on documented medical note complexity or patient satisfaction scores.