Does the presence of a clinical scribe positively impact patient experience in the otolaryngology clinic?
Bottom Line: Patient satisfaction was neither impaired nor improved by the presence of a scribe in the otolaryngology clinic, although benefits from prior studies in other specialties support their usefulness in providing high-level care.
Explore This IssueAugust 2020
Background: Electronic health records (EHR) systems improve data quality and reduce errors but can place a significant burden on providers. Consequently, more physicians employ medical scribes to save time, increase efficiency, and improve physician-patient communication. There are currently limited data on the effect of scribes on patient experience.
Commentary: “This retrospective review examined the influence of scribes on the patient experience in an outpatient otolaryngology clinic. While scribes have been shown to increase provider satisfaction and clinical productivity, patient satisfaction wasn’t affected by scribe use. Lower satisfaction was noted with participation of a resident, primary language other than English, and use of an interpreter.” —Cristina Cabrera-Muffly, MD
Study Design: Retrospective cohort survey study.
Setting: Department of Otolaryngology, Boston Medical Center, Boston.
Synopsis: Researchers recruited 153 patients presenting to the otolaryngology outpatient clinic. Appointments included an attending, with any combination of scribe, resident, and nonphysician provider. Afterward, a clinical assistant asked the patient to complete a survey. A point was assigned for each maximal satisfaction response. Satisfaction with the scribe was completed for the 96 patients for whom a scribe had been present. Results showed that neither overall satisfaction nor physician rating was significantly associated with the scribe, and patients said the scribe “definitely positively impacted the visit” 77.1% of the time. Notably, previous studies analyzing the effects of scribes on productivity in the outpatient setting have been positive. Some have noted benefits such as decreased visit length and documentation time, and longer direct patient care time. Presence of the scribe did not directly improve or negatively impact patient experience. The study was limited to a single clinic with two attending providers, leaving open numerous variables for other settings and situations.
Citation: Rohlfing ML, Keefe KR, Komshian SR, et al. Clinical scribes and their association with patient experience in the otolaryngology clinic. Laryngoscope. 2020;130:E134–E139.