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  • Dr. Murray Feingold: Medical scribes free up physicians

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  • There is no question that high-tech advances have been very helpful in providing better care for patients. The computer and the advent of electronic records are just two examples. But, with the good, also comes the bad.
    How does the information for the electronic records get into the computer? In many instances, doctors are inputting the data while they are seeing the patient. And while they are doing that, they are spending less time relating to the patient. As a result, patients are not receiving the attention they deserve.
    This has become a concern to the medical community. Is there a way for doctors to do what they are trained to do, “doctoring,” and still get the patient’s history, physical findings and management plan into the electronic medical record?
    To accomplish this, a new health-care team member has been introduced — the scribe. The scribe, with his or her own computer, shadows the physician while the patient is being seen. While the doctor is getting the patient’s history, the scribe is typing this information into the computer.
    The same is true as the doctor dictates the physical findings while examining the patient. During all of this, the doctor is concentrating on, and relating to, the patient — not the computer.
    Yes, a scribe is an added expense to a health-care system that needs to reduce costs and not add more costs. However, not only do scribes free up physicians to spend more time with patients, it also allows them time to see more patients, thus increasing income to pay for the scribe.
    A recent study has shown that some physicians spend two-thirds of their time doing clerical work, much of which could be done by non-physicians.
    Many doctors are retiring early or are no longer involved in patient care because of the overwhelming bureaucracy and paperwork that faces them.
    Certainly, some bureaucracy is needed, but enough is enough.
    Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.
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