“The Rise of the Medical Scribe Industry”


In JAMA, several Texas medical doctors and health information experts discuss the rapidly expanding number of “medical scribes” being hired by physicians to enter medical information into electronic health records (EHRs). Many doctors are finding electronic health records to be inefficient and unhelpful, they write, yet governments continue to mandate them.

“Many perceive that the inefficiencies of EHRs are adversely affecting the quality of care, and because physicians see fewer patients per day, income may decline,” the authors write. “Although physicians approve of EHRs in concept and appreciate their future promise, the current state of EHR technology has increased physician dissatisfaction. Poor EHR usability, time-consuming data entry, reduced patient care time, inability to exchange health information, and templated notes are central concerns. Physicians emphasize that EHR technology — especially user interfaces — must improve, and a new industry has emerged nationally to provide physicians with medical scribes.”

Yet these scribes may not have appropriate training, and the use of them is likely to expand in ways that could become harmful to patients, the authors suggest.

(Full text) The Rise of the Medical Scribe Industry: Implications for the Advancement of Electronic Health (Gellert, George A. et al. JAMA. Published online December 15, 2014. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.1712)


  1. Personally, I don’t like having anyone in the room with my doctor and myself besides the two of us. It would bother me to have a scribe, as it takes a lot for me to become comfortable with a doc in the first place.

    I also feel the EMR interfere with privacy. It’s probably inevitable that they have come to be, though.

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  2. There are many problems with the concept of electronic records. Theoretically they are a good idea and should make sure that different doctors can coordinate their work avoiding prescribing drugs that interact and following patient’s responses over time. In practice however this is more likely to cause damage:
    – the first reason is mentioned in the article: it’s a bureaucratic hurdle which eats up time which should be better spent
    – secondly there is a much bigger chance of the patient being “profiled” – when I have a problem with my current doctor and want a second opinion I don’t necessarily want the next guy to be primed (positively or negatively – doesn’t matter) by the previous opinions
    – this data can be easily leaked/hacked etc and be used to discriminate against the patient

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    • Oh, trust me, I already have medical proof (in records I’ve picked up) that what’s written in one’s medical records is not private in the US. And “well meaning” doctors (like ER doctors), who do not know you personally, absolutely DO break the HIPPA laws.

      All those here who think that not telling doctors of prior psychiatric stigmatization, will protect them and allow them to get proper and respectful medical care in the future, should be forewarned that it likely won’t.

      But you can take hope in the fact that all the DSM stigmatizations are now known to be scientifically “lacking in validity,” and there’s lots of evidence the psych meds CAUSE the DSM symptoms. And there’s zero proof any of the DSM “disorders” is “genetic,” nor a “life long, incurable” disease.

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