(HealthDay News) — For all specialties, modest increases in patient visits per day would recover the costs of implementing medical scribes, according to a study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Tyler J. Miksanek, from the University of Chicago, and colleagues conducted a modeling study to determine the number of additional patient visits that various specialties would need to recover the costs of implementing scribes in their practice at one year.

The researchers found that to recover scribe costs, an average of 1.34 additional new patient visits per day (295 per year) were required, ranging from 0.89 for cardiology to 1.80 for orthopedic surgery. For returning patients, to recover costs, an average of 2.15 additional visits per day were required, ranging from 1.65 for cardiology to 2.78 for orthopedic surgery. For all specialties, the addition of 2 new patient or three return patient visits per day was profitable.

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“It is difficult to economically quantify scribes’ positive effect on physician satisfaction, but previous work has shown that there is a societal economic cost attributable to burnout,” the authors write. “Future work to predict the economic impact of scribes on mitigating physician burnout would be important.”

One author disclosed ties to the health care and health insurance industries.


Miksanek TJ, Skandari MR, Ham SA, et al. The productivity requirements of implementing a medical scribe program. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M20-0428