Last updated on March 2020

Evaluation of the Use of Medical Scribes in VAMC Emergency Departments and Specialty Care Clinics


Brief description of study

Background and study aims: Medical scribes are trained paraprofessionals that assist providers with documenting patient encounters. Prior evidence suggests that scribes may be effective in increasing provider productivity and satisfaction, and decreasing provider time spent on documentation without negatively affecting patient satisfaction. Section 507 of the MISSION Act of 2018 mandated a two-year pilot of medical scribes, which will begin in March 2020 in specialty clinics and emergency departments (EDs) of twelve VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) across the country. The aims of this study are to understand how the introduction of scribes and scribe training affect provider efficiency, patient and provider satisfaction, wait times, and daily patient volume in the VA context.

Who can participate? Urban and rural VAMCs willing to be assigned medical scribes for use in EDs or selected high wait time specialty clinics (cardiology, orthopedics).

What does the study involve? Four medical scribes will be assigned to each of the 12 VAMC sites randomized into treatment with the VA hiring half as new employees and contracting out for the remaining half. 30% of the scribes will be assigned to emergency departments and the other 70% will be assigned to specialty care. Remaining sites that expressed interest in the pilot but were not randomized treatment will be used as comparators. Provider productivity, patient volume, wait times, and patient satisfaction from the treated sites will be compared to baseline (pre-scribe) data as well as data from comparison sites.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating? VAMCs where medical scribes are introduced may see gains in provider efficiency, reduced wait times, and increased patient satisfaction due to the shifting of administrative burdens associated with documenting patient encounters in electronic health records from providers to these trained professionals. The introduction of medical scribes could complicate patient encounters by making some patients and/or providers uncomfortable.

Where is the study run from? This study is being coordinated by the Partnered Evidence-based Policy Resource Center (PEPReC) at the VA Boston Healthcare System in collaboration with the VA Office of Veterans Access to Care (OVAC).

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for? March 2020 to February 2022

Who is funding the study? U.S. Veterans Health Administration

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT04154462

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Robley Rex VA Medical Center

Louisville, KY United States
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