How Providers Can Optimize Effective and Safe Scribe Use: a Qualitative Study

Sky Corby, Joan S. Ash, Sarah T. Florig, Vishnu Mohan, James Becton, Nicholas Solberg, Robby Bergstrom, Benjamin Orwoll, Christopher Hoekstra, Jeffrey A. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The use of electronic health records has generated an increase in after-hours and weekend work for providers. To alleviate this situation, the hiring of medical scribes has rapidly increased. Given the lack of scribe industry standards and the wide variance in how providers and scribes work together, it could potentially create new patient safety-related risks. Objective: The purpose of this paper was to identify how providers can optimize the effective and safe use of scribes. Design: The research team conducted a secondary analysis of qualitative data where we reanalyzed data from interview transcripts, field notes, and transcribed group discussions generated by four previous projects related to medical scribes. Participants: Purposively selected participants included subject matter experts, providers, informaticians, medical scribes, medical assistants, administrators, social scientists, medical students, and qualitative researchers. Approach: The team used NVivo12 to assist with the qualitative analysis. We used a template method followed by word queries to identify an optimum level of scribe utilization. We then used an inductive interpretive theme-generation process. Key Results: We identified three themes: (1) communication aspects, (2) teamwork efforts, and (3) provider characteristics. Each theme contained specific practices so providers can use scribes safely and in a standardized way. Conclusion: We utilized a secondary qualitative data analysis methodology to develop themes describing how providers can optimize their use of scribes. This new knowledge could increase provider efficiency and safety and be incorporated into further and future training tools for them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2052-2058
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Electronic health records
  • Medical scribes
  • Patient safety
  • Qualitative research
  • Sociotechnical systems
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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