A few days ago I went to see a doctor at a clinic. My experience with clinics has not always been a good one. In major cities, and their suburbs, clinics seem to be as overcrowded
as going to an emergency room at hospital. And when you finally got to see a doctor the doctor rarely looked at you as he was talking to you. He’s usually looking at a computer and following the documentation of any prior visit or taking a survey of your medical history. I do remember only one doctor at a clinic who would take the time to look at you when you spoke to him and he seemed to have time to listen to me. Of course before you see any doctor you first see a clerk who checked on your insurance plan and then a nurse. The nurse would take the usual blood pressure and temperature and then going to the survey of your medical history before allowing you to see the doctor. Many times the nurse and the doctor asked the same questions. I suppose it has to do with the financial side of the medical profession. I’m sure they take into consideration what is covered by your insurance while also diagnosing your condition and recommending a treatment. In the past 10 years the medical profession has gotten so impersonal that I feel like just another number who they put into a recognized category. Another problem with these clinics and doctors were that they never seem to see you at our near your appointment time. Let’s say you have an appointment at 10:30 AM. The doctor probably would not see youuntil 11 AM, if you are lucky. This was the kind of experience I had gotten used too.
Well, all that changed in the last visit I had to a clinic in the small town in Texas. To begin with the waiting room was clean and neat. It was not overcrowded and actually had televisions in the waiting room that you could hear. There was also a restroom in the waiting area that was clean and convenient. Of course the first person you walk up to behind the window is again a clerk. But the clerk seemed happy to see me and quickly found my file so I could go ahead and wait for the doctor. A nurse called me into the back examination room on the appointment time. She performed the preliminary blood pressure and temperature check on me and then, without looking into a computer, asked me how I was feeling and if there is anything that I wanted to tell her the doctor before the doctor got there. She did go through the usual medical history form, but while doing so she would take the time to look at me as I answer the questions and make sure I understood the question. Then she said the doctor would be in to see me in a few minutes. That would usually mean 15 to 20 min. looking around the small room and medical drawings, pictures of the doctor’s children and medical brochures. But this time within just a few minutes the doctor walked into the room he took the time to introduce himself and shaked my hand. He brought with him I woman holding a computer who sat down in a chair behind the doctor without saying a word. I then introduced myself to this woman and ask her who she was. She said she was a scribe and was there to take notes for the doctor. At first I thought of a scribe as a person in ancient times who took notes of whatever their leader would say. But what this did was allow the doctor to talk to me and to listen to me without moments of him typing my answers or filling in the blanks on a computer. During my visit with the doctor he seemed actually listen to what I had to say. At one point I said I was sorry to take some much time, the doctor answered “ take your time I would rather hear what you have just say they miss anything”. For the first time in a decade I felt like an important person who had a friend in front of me who actually cared about how I felt what I was thinking. The doctor spent about 20 min with me while the scribe continued to take notes. The complete visit to the clinic was a pleasant one. I was in and out on time I felt that the doctor that I worked with understood why I was there and took the time to listen to my concerns.
From this experience I think that medical offices especially doctors should engage the use of a scribe. I’m sure this means in an expense, but I’ll bet it works out in the overall budget. The doctor can concentrate on his/ her patients and their condition and less time trying to type into a computer. I’m sure that the scribe is very familiar with all the forms what needs to be put in each form and the scribe, after working with the doctor for a while, will put the correct information in the medical records. Imagine a doctor’s visit with the doctor is not always looking at a computer or down at a form while trying to talk to you. Imagine that he looks at you during your visit. He is able to talk to you and ask questions while the scribe is taking notes of how you answer a question. I think the body language is important when you’re trying to get information from a person. They may say one thing but it doesn’t take long for you to see that their body language is saying something else.
So if you’re in the medical profession or the next time you see your doctor mention the use of the scribe. It may have been used in ancient times but I think it’s time that they come back in use and be a part of today’s medical team.