Definition

medical scribe

Contributor(s): Alex DelVecchio

A medical scribe is a healthcare professional that performs patient documentation and clerical tasks on behalf of a physician. In healthcare facilities that have converted from the old paper record system, medical scribes now do much of their work in an electronic health record (EHR) system, though some still manually record information in patient charts.

Medical scribes, sometimes called medical transcriptionists, also collect information on a patient so their care provider can review it before their appointment. The overall digitalization of healthcare, along with meaningful use stage 2 criteria that requires at least 50% of patients be provided electronic access to their health information has caused an increase in demand for medical scribes.

Physicians that aren't fully comfortable with their EHR system or feel they don't have time to copy the details of a patient's visit in their electronic record can hire a medical scribe to do so on their behalf. Medical scribes can also teach or help physicians to navigate their EHR system, locate specific patient data or enter notes into a patient's record.

Not all medical scribes reproduce physicians' handwritten notes into a digital format. Some sit in on a doctor's visit and record all necessary insurance, billing and medical information as it is given by the patient. The day-to-day function of a medical scribe often varies depending on the needs of their employing physician.

This was last updated in February 2015

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