Author: rep10003

Working with a Medical Scribe

Concetta DwyerBy Concetta Dwyer

Each medical encounter is comprised of two major parts: direct patient care, and documentation. Direct patient care involves actions and interactions traditionally associated with health care; documentation involves recording pertinent information gleaned during direct patient care. Physicians can find it difficult to balance gathering data with recording it. Medical scribes obviate the need for this tenuous balance by taking over the duties of documentation.

Before working with health care providers, medical scribes undergo rigorous company training, where they are trained in medical terminology, billing and coding elements, and the use of the electronic medical record system. During direct patient care, scribes document exam findings, the patient's full medical history, and any assessments a health care provider makes. After each visit, scribes can pend orders signed by the health care provider, and print out instructions for patients.

Scribes improve not only the efficiency of medical teams, but also patient satisfaction. By assuming the impersonal task of recording, they allow health care providers to communicate with their patients face-to-face, building trust and rapport. This provider-patient connection leads both to patient satisfaction and better health outcomes.

On the use of medical scribes, Alberto Rodriguez, MD, states: "The best parts of using scribes is it allows me to give my undivided attention to the patients, I stay more on time through the day, and my charts are more complete." Medical scribes are crucial components of medical teams as they strive to meet the quadruple aim of improving population health, patient experience, provider satisfaction, and reducing costs.

To leave a response to this post, please email Ellen Ravens-Seger.

Treating Patients in the Setting of an Opioid Epidemic

Kimberly TschetterBy Kimberly Tschetter, PA-C

While educating patients about risk factors and treatment options is a critical and typical part of any provider’s day, there is one topic most of my patients are already familiar with: the opioid epidemic. I have met many grandparents who have lost a loved one to Percocet or heroin, or must now raise their grandchildren alone. Haunted by this brutal albatross, an uneasy question arises around treating pain: Do I prescribe this patient a narcotic?

Treating pain permeates across all health care specialties and professions. Pain is personal and subjective, but, for that, very real and often all-consuming. The opioid epidemic poses a vexing dilemma. As compassionate health care providers, we must consider it our duty to relieve suffering. But, this duty to relieve suffering must be balanced against the risk of potential narcotic addiction.

I have talked with Urban Service Track students driven to frustration and anxiety by this dilemma around pain treatment. Unfortunately, there is no universally-applicable resolution. Faced with uncertainty, I encourage young health care professionals to reach out to their interdisciplinary teams of fellow health care professionals. These team members have information and knowledge necessary to form a holistic understanding of patients and their situations, and are students' comrades in the struggle to treat patients among the ambivalences of the opioid epidemic.

The uneasiness we each feel making difficult medical decisions never disappears completely; however, this perpetual unease is determined by our indispensable responsibility for the health of individuals and populations. Each of us must make difficult decisions in the murky gyre of the opioid epidemic. Reach out to each other, over and over again. I promise: your community will lighten the burden.

To leave a response to this post, please email Ellen Ravens-Seger.