Medical scribes free doctors to spend more time with patients

Medical scribe Lynn Tran checks medical records for a patient at CHI Memorial's Hixson emergency room on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
photo Medical scribe Lynn Tran, right, works at a desk near Dr. Joe Minton at CHI Memorial's Hixson emergency room on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

If you have ever struggled to read a doctor's handwriting and wondered if there isn't a better way, the answer is yes. A relatively new health care profession, called a medical scribe, is showing up in more and more U.S. hospitals, driven less by poor physician penmanship than by an increasing need for doctors to capture what they do on a computer.

Doctors have long complained that while the most important part of their job is examining a patient, ordering tests, and coming up with a treatment plan, too much of their time is taken up documenting what they do.