Who is a medical scribe? Why are medical scribes important in the US healthcare system?

What is a medical scribe? Why are medical scribes important in the US healthcare system? So, to know about the medical scribe profession we first have to understand the US healthcare system in detail.

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US Healthcare system

If we talk about the US healthcare system, then it is the most expensive healthcare system in the world and Americans pay almost 4 times as much for pharmaceutical drugs. In the 18th Century, there was no government license necessary to practice in America, any man who has some basic knowledge about medicine can work as a physician.

But, with time studying in a medical school,  passing the state examination, and qualifying for the license standard become compulsory. Also, medical schooling was so costly that a common person cannot afford it, which resulted in a large difference in the doctor-patient ratio. For every 1000 patients, there was only one physician available which ultimately lead to increased visit charges. 

It was very difficult for a common person to afford quality healthcare in the USA. Let’s look at the following example to understand how expensive the US healthcare system is – “A typical angioplasty to open a blocked blood vessel, for example, costs $6,390 in the Netherlands, $7,370 in Switzerland, and $32,230 (23,90,268.66 INR) in the United States. Similarly, a heart bypass operation in the U.S. costs $78,100 compared to $32,010 in Switzerland.”

Also read: Government Health Insurances in the United States: Everything you need to know

Affordable care act or Obama care

To help the common people of the USA to afford quality healthcare, President Barack Obama signed an act on 23rd March 2010, known as the Affordable Care Act, formally known as the Patient Protection and Obamacare. The act aimed to provide affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans. Also, ACA was also designed to protect consumers from insurance company tactics that might drive up patient costs or restrict care. 

How affordable care act affect physician’s life?

We’ve all heard the line before, “If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.” This phrase is very important in the medical industry. The law made physician’s life very hectic and they were spending more time preparing their document which has to be submitted to the insurance companies. 

Let’s try to understand this with the help of an example, suppose you are a doctor and you love to see patients and help them to treat their health issues. You work an 8-hour shift and do 10-15 patient visits in a day.

Now, your work is increased and you also have to prepare documents for each and every patient you see during the day, if you do not do correctly then you will not be able to get satisfactory revenue from the insurance companies and will not be paid according to the amount to work you do but on the basis of a document and you fail to qualify the high standers of a medical document and gets very less revenue. Obviously, you will feel frustrated, anyone can feel frustrated if someone does not get a salary according to his work. 

Also read: Medical Billing in Detail: Career Path, Jobs, Salaries, Certificates and FAQs

This is what happened with the doctors, they were more focusing on the document work rather than taking care of the patients. So, ultimately they required someone to perform document work for them so that they are more focused on patient care. 

Who is a medical scribe?

A medical scribe is a healthcare professional that performs patient documentation and clerical tasks on behalf of a physician. 

When the internet and technology were not so advanced, physicians used to record the visit information in a recorder, which was transcribed by medical transcriptionists. But, as technology advanced, physicians started to use a medical scribe. 

A medical scribe’s primary duties are to follow a physician through his or her workday and chart patient encounters in real-time using a medical office’s electronic health record (EHR) and existing templates. Responsibilities will vary with the scribe’s department rules.

So, now you know very well about a medical scribe’s role and responsibilities. The process of documenting the thing in the EHR collected during the visit is known as medical scribing. Hence, medical scribes play a major role in the US healthcare system. They are trained in performing documentation work and preparing a quality document for the patient. 

Frequently asked questions about medical scribing

Q. What does a medical scribe do? 

A. Medical scribe is like a personal assistant of a US Physician who helps in documentation, recording, and assisting the physician in his daily hospital work.

Q. Medical Scribe qualifications

A. There is no specific qualification to become a medical scribe. The person should be familiar with the medical terms and should be able to assist the physician in his work. He should be able to communicate well with the physician. Also, a typing speed of more than 70 wpm is also required.

Q. How much does a medical scribe salary in India?

A. Medical scribe in his initial days earns a handsome salary of 25-30K per month which increases with the increase in their experience.


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