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Medical Scribes as an Input in Health-Care Production: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Andrew Friedson ()

American Journal of Health Economics, 2018, vol. 4, issue 4, 479-503

Abstract: Medical scribes are charting specialists who prepare patient charts in the physician's stead, creating efficiency gains in production via specialization of labor. The scribe industry has grown rapidly in recent years, but relatively little is known about its impact on health-care production. I use data from a randomized experiment in which scribes were assigned to some, but not all, physician shifts in three emergency rooms over nine months. Generally, I find that scribes significantly decrease physician overtime usage, increase the number of relative value units per shift, and decrease patient wait times. The size of the benefits of scribes varies considerably based on the types of shifts worked and characteristics of the physician matched with the scribe.

Keywords: medical scribes; emergency rooms; health-care production; specialization of labor (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I11 J24 L23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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