To evaluate the impact of adding medical scribes to 2 distinct outpatient pediatric subspecialty clinics on provider burnout, visit length, and patient satisfaction. A total of 2 pediatric endocrinologists and 2 developmental-behavioral pediatrics/pediatrician (DBP) were randomly assigned based on days of the week to see patients aged 0 to 21 years in their clinics with and without in-person medical scribes from February 2019 to February 2020. Parent satisfaction rates were examined through pre- and postappointment surveys. Provider burnout rates were assessed through the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey. A retrospective comparative analysis of average appointment duration was undertaken considering the scribe/no scribe random allocation in the examination room. Funding for this pilot provided by the department of pediatrics budgeted funds. Over 2923 appointments during the project dates, 829 appointments were seen with a scribe. The average appointment time for a new DBP appointment was 61 minutes with scribes and 71 minutes without ( < .001). Return patient appointments in DBP averaged 31 minutes with scribes and 43 minutes without ( < .001). There was no significant difference in appointment duration for endocrinology with and without scribes. The average time for chart completion was reduced with the presence of scribes in DBP but not in endocrinology. Out of the 209 families surveyed, patient satisfaction rates with and without a scribe did not differ in that between 96% and 97% of respondents rated the appointment overall as "excellent" for each measure of provider communication with scribes present. Finally, from the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey, the average score across all 4 providers for Emotional Exhaustion and Depersonalization decreased during the project period, whereas Personal Accomplishment scores increased over the project period. Scribes might be more advantageous for some subspecialties that utilize prolonged narratives in clinic notes, like DBP, and an important avenue to consider in reducing provider burnout in busy ambulatory settings.
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