Impact of scribes on throughput metrics and billing during an electronic medical record transition

Heather A. Heaton, Emily J. Schwartz, Wyatt J. Gifford, Karen A. Koch, Christine M. Lohse, Ryan J. Monroe, Kristine M. Thompson, Laura E. Walker, Thomas R. Hellmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Evaluate an established scribe program on throughput and revenue capture in an Emergency Department (ED) undergoing an EMR transition. Methods: A prospective cohort design comparing patients managed with and without scribes in an academic ED. Throughput metrics (medians, min) and relative value units (RVUs, means) were collected. Data was evaluated in its entirety (three months), as well as in two subsets: go live (immediate two weeks) and adoption (two weeks post implementation to end). Results: All patients: There was no significant difference in throughput or RVUs during the three month period. During go-live, scribes showed improvement in total RVUs per patient (4.63 vs 4.40, p = 0.048). During adoption, scribed patients had decreased length of stay (LOS, 221 vs 231, p = 0.023). Adults: Door to provider (28 vs 37, p = 0.014) and total RVUs (5.20 vs 4.92, p = 0.042) were improved with scribes in the go-live period. Scribes improved go-live morning and overnight shifts, while lengthening provider to disposition during afternoon shifts. No significant differences were seen in the adoption period, except for increased provider to disposition time overnight with scribes (154 vs 146, p = 0.030). Pediatrics: When all pediatric patients were compared, scribe patients had a decreased professional RVU charge (2.78 vs 2.90, p = 0.037). During go live and adoption, no significant differences were found in any other parameter or subgrouping. Conclusions: A scribe's ability to mitigate operational inefficiencies introduced by an EMR transition seems limited in an academic hospital. Previous research highlighting the impact of scribes on revenue was not replicated during this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1594-1598
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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