Medical scribes have no impact on the patient experience of an emergency department

Emerg Med Australas. 2018 Feb;30(1):61-66. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12818. Epub 2017 Jun 6.


Objective: We aimed to evaluate patient perceptions of medical scribes in the ED and to test for scribe impacts on ED Net Promoter Scores, Press Ganey Surveys and other patient-centred topics.

Methods: Exploratory semi-structured interviews were conducted in the ED during wait times after scribed consultations. Interview results were used to derive topics relating to scribes. Items addressing these topics from validated surveys were combined with items from widely used patient satisfaction questionnaires. Questionnaires were administered in the ED by face-to-face approach while patients were waiting for admission/discharge or test results. Patients and doctors were blinded to the purpose of the questionnaire. The survey evaluated for non-inferiority of scribed consultations, using Net Promoter Scores, Press Ganey questions and questions specific to the presence of the scribe.

Results: Patient interviews did not identify any negative views regarding the presence of scribes during consultations. Thematic saturation was achieved after seven interviews. Two hundred and fifty-eight patients were approached to complete the questionnaire, and 215 participated (83%); 95 and 118 participants in the scribed and non-scribed groups, respectively. There was no difference between scribed and non-scribed consultations on the following measures of satisfaction: the Net Promoter Score, Press Ganey questions, quality of information received from doctors, communication, privacy concerns or inhibition about revealing private information and room crowding.

Conclusion: We found no evidence that scribes reduce patient satisfaction during emergency consultations, nor prompt discomfort that might cause a patient to withhold information.

Keywords: Press Ganey; emergency department; medical scribe; patient experience; qualitative and quantitative.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Medical Secretaries / standards*
  • Medical Secretaries / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Perception*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires