Clinical Edge

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Medical Scribes & Improved Workflow in Primary Care

JAMA Intern Med; ePub 2018 Sep 17; Mishra, et al

The use of medical scribes in primary care decreased physician electronic health record (EHR) burden, improved work efficiency, and enhanced patient visit interactions, according to a new study. The 12-month crossover study evaluated the association of use of medical scribes with primary care physician (PCP) workflow and patient experience. PCPs were randomly assigned to start the first 3-month period with or without scribes and then alternated exposure status every 3 months for 1 year. The PCPs completed a 6-question survey at the end of each study period. Patients of participating PCPs were surveyed after scribed clinic visits. Researchers found:

  • Of the 18 participating PCPs, 10 were women, 2 were internal medicine physicians, and 6 were family practice physicians.
  • Compared with nonscribed periods, scribed periods were associated with less self-reported after-hours EHR documentation.
  • Scribed periods were also associated with higher likelihood of PCP-reported spending >75% of the visits interacting with the patient and <25% of the visit on a computer.
  • 61.2% of patients reported that scribes had a positive bearing on their visits.


Mishra P, Kiang JC, Grant RW. Association of medical scribes in primary care with physician workflow and patient experience. [Published online ahead of print September 17, 2018]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.3956,