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Medical Scribes

History

While scribes have existed since the development of written language, the medical scribe profession began in the late 1990's. Hospitals, medical offices, and physicians always employed assistants, transcribers, and other paraprofessionals to assist in maintaining medical records, but with the proliferation of electronic medical records the medical scribe as a recognized position became more commonplace. Medical practices, centers, clinics, and hospitals have an increased focus on productivity and efficiency, in part due to requirements for reimbursement from insurance companies and federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Medical professionals see more patients, and documentation of their services needs to be more detailed and comply with statutory requirements. In 2004, in his State of the Union Address, then President George W. Bush referenced a plan to ensure the use of electronic medical records, stating that “By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care.’ In 2009, the Federal Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 allocated funds to help hospitals, health care facilities, and physicians implement electronic health and medical record systems, which are now required by law. As part of the extensive implementation of electronic medical records much time needs to be devoted to record-keeping and documentation of doctor/patient communications. This created demand for medical scribes and led to tremendous growth in the field. Medical scribes have taken on the physician's role in documenting information, observations, notes, history, description of procedures, and other important information during patient office visits.

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