Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Medical scribe certification may ease EHR data entry burdens

By Jennifer Bresnick

One of the biggest ongoing complaints that physicians have about their EHRs is the need for copious amounts of data entry to record even the simplest of patient data.  While EHRs are often touted as a way to improve efficiency and cut down on documentation mistakes, physicians have targeted the extra time they much spend hunched in front of the keyboard as one of the worst parts of switching to electronic records.  However, some practices have employed medical scribes as a way to circumvent this issue, and have seen measurable results.  The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) is hoping to further this trend by offering a new assessment-based recognition (ABR) to satisfy CMS rules about order entry staff.

The need for physicians to brush up on their typing skills has become an area of study in recent months as EHR adoption spreads to the vast majority of healthcare organizations.  A study presented at the American Academy of Family Physicians in October noted that resident physicians were spending an extra 16 minutes a day on EHR documentation, cutting into academic learning time and the ability to practice hands-on patient care.

While other studies, including one by Dr. Alan J. Bank, of United Heart and Vascular Clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota, have found that the use of medial typists can ease the time crunch for physicians while saving money for providers, a little-known part of the EHR Incentive Programs now requires that anyone adding documentation to the EHR must be properly certified to do so.

“As of January 1, 2013, only ‘credentialed medical assistants’ (in addition to licensed health professionals) have been permitted to enter medication, radiology, and laboratory orders into the electronic health record (EHR) and have such entry count toward meeting the meaningful use thresholds under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs,” the AAMA announcement explains. “Individuals who are granted this ABR in order entry meet the ‘credentialed medical assistant’ requirement under the September 5, 2012, rule for the EHR Incentive Programs.”

To achieve the AAMA credential, applicants must have been employed for two of the last three years at a healthcare facility, where they were under supervision of a licensed provider.  They must submit documentation from their supervisor proving that the applicant is proficient in the use of EHR technology, and must also successfully complete a series of AAMA educational courses in legal and practical EHR-related subjects.

“I think in the future, in five years, everyone should be using either a scribe or some other version of physician helper,” Banks predicted in an interview with EHRintelligence.  “To me, it doesn’t make economic sense to have a doctor who’s getting paid a good salary and has all the training to be sitting there typing or filling out forms.  Someone else can do it just as well or better.  And a lot of physicians are getting worn out.  They’re just getting tired.  But if we made things easier for physicians and took some of the paperwork away, it would be better for everybody.  As doctors, we want to take care of patients.  We don’t want to be typists.”

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