PhysAssist Scribes for eMRs [Necessity or Frivolity?]

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On Human eHR Input Devices [aka Personal Secretaries]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™


What it Is – How it Works?

According to their website, PhysAssist Scribes provide turn-key solutions, recruits, interviews, trains and certifies staff, schedules and maintains highly-trained human eHR input scribes for their clients [$8-10/hour wages]. Emergency room departments and physicians were an initial target market.

Data Input Services

Scribes provide real-time charting for physicians by shadowing them throughout their shifts and performing a variety of tasks including recording patients’ history and chief complaints, transcribing the physical exam, ordering x-rays, recording diagnostic test results, and preparing plans for follow-up care, etc.

Typical Clients

Clients are mostly hospital based physicians, but one can imagine progressing down the food chain to large medical practices and even to solo practitioners as technology advances and HR costs are reduced. So, give em’ a click, and tell us what you think.

Reported Benefits

  • Increase physician performance
  • Increase physician job satisfaction
  • Increase overall patient satisfaction
  • Improve chart accuracy
  • Decrease patient length of stay
  • Increase communication among ED staff
  • Improve physician recruiting and [retension] retention.

Related story:


  • It seems implausible to me that in order to facilitate the widespread use of eMRs, one has to hire another layer of bureaucracy in order to input the patient encounter. Is this an indictment of the various speech recognition systems or physician keyboarding ability? I am not a technophobe but eHRs are not yet up to pragmatic-use snuff. This is reminiscent of jeweled encrusted “buggy-whips” of the 1850’s. They were expensive, cumbersome and added no utility; but were “nice-to-have” devices for the affluent until the internal combustion engine came along [i.e. non-solo or small group medical practitioner].
  • Of course, injecting another human resource [i.e. personal secretary] into the data input equation increases privacy breach possibilities for this protected health information [PHI]. And, it is not exactly the model of a contemporary and lean micro-medical office.
  • Does a secretary-scribe really have to be “certified”? Won’t a good typist do just as well? Is this an example of vertical integration in the PhysAssist business model?  How long till the scribes join the labor-union movement and seek employment benefits?
  • What happens to the doctor, patient and data input chain when a scribe quits, or is a no-show for work?
  • What ever happened to Occam’s razor (or Ockham’s razor), often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (translating to the law of parsimony, law of economy or law of succinctness), which is a principle that generally recommends selecting a hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions. IOW: KISS
  • Of additional interest to note is the misspelling of the word retention, as “retension” on the website. Not a very good impression for a transcribing firm; or am I just an aging editorial curmudgeon?
  • Are e-MR scribes a necessity or mere frivolity?


And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Are such secretary scribes a “covered entity” or “business associate” under the HIPAA laws with the needed paperwork, etc? Or, is this an Obama administration job creation initiative?

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Our Editor-and-Chief, Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™ is a former medical practitioner and board certified surgeon [FACFAS], certified financial planner, stock-broker, insurance agent, Registered Rep, RIA representative, writer, editor, journalist, expert witness and healthcare economist who enjoys public speaking and gives as many talks each year as possible, at a variety of medical society, pharmaceutical and financial services conferences around the country and world.

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