For a study, researchers sought to determine how medical scribes affected clinic workflow, physician professional satisfaction, and patient happiness in rheumatology and endocrinology clinics. In outpatient rheumatology and endocrinology clinics at an academic medical center, the researchers conducted a within-practice pilot study of medical scribes that included a 6-week intervention phase (documentation assistance by medical scribes) followed by a control phase (usual documentation with no assistance). They assessed the following outcomes: physician professional satisfaction (range, 5–25, with higher values indicating greater satisfaction), autonomy (range, 4–16, with higher values indicating greater autonomy), clinic workflow perception (range, 1=peaceful, 5=chaotic), and patient satisfaction (5-point Likert item, anchors: strongly agree, strongly disagree).
Six physicians, three of whom were rheumatologists and three of whom were endocrinologists, and 496 patients from their practices took part. The employment of a medical scribe was not related to physician professional satisfaction (18.17 [SD, 2.9] vs. 17.83 [SD, 1.94], not statistically significant), clinic workflow perception (2.50 [SD, 0.84] vs. 3.17 [SD, 0.75], not statistically significant), or autonomy (8.67 [SD, 3.44] vs. 8.83 [SD, 3.06], not statistically significant). Physicians had a favorable overall impression of the medical scribes program, believing that the documentation assistance offered by scribes was valuable and simple to use and that it had a beneficial influence on their clinic operations. Patient satisfaction was high during the intervention period (99.4% strongly agree/agree), but not substantially different from the control phase.
Rheumatologists, endocrinologists, and their patients uniformly expressed positive attitudes toward the employment of a medical scribe in outpatient clinics, with no evidence of a detrimental impact on clinic workflow.