Medical scribes will help doctors contend with meaningful use

"Meaningful use," which refers to the standards set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to govern the adoption and use of electronic medical records, is being rolled out in stages. Over the next five years, meaningful use will promote the spread of electronic medical records among practices across the country, as a way to cut costs and improve quality of care for patients. 

However, some doctors are concerned that this change will put serious pressure on the traditional doctor-patient relationship.

"When a patient walks into the office…they want the attention of the clinician and unfortunately what the process of data entry and data capture has done is defocus that interaction," Dr. Nick van Terheyden, CMIO at Nuance Communciations, told Healthcare IT News.

The same goes for doctors. Dr. Viet Nguyen, CMIO of Systems Made Simple, told the news source that many doctors feel that new documentation requirements have put an additional burden on their already-stressful job of taking care of patients.

Currently, stage one of meaningful use has focused on a series of core and menu objectives. These include the development of a standard format for capturing electronic health information and using that data to coordinate care and keep track of clinical quality.

Beginning in 2014, stage two will put a greater emphasis on a health information exchange and increase requirements for e-prescribing.

All of this means that doctors will have to contend with more work than they did previously. To ease the burden, hospitals should employ medical scribes.

Scribes are trained to assist doctors with medical documentation, including many of the systems covered by meaningful use. With help from scribes, doctors will be able to spend more of their time caring for patients.

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