The Importance of Medical Scribes

Interview with Michael Murphy, Physician and CEO of medical scribe provider ScribeAmerica

Michael Murphy, Physician and CEO of ScribeAmerica

You don’t usually imagine doctors training in the armed forces, but that’s precisely how Dr. Michael Murphy spent the very early part of his career. Murphy is considered an expert on the role of medical scribes in the healthcare industry, since he is the co-founder and CEO of ScribeAmerica, a company that provides experienced medical scribes and innovative industry practices to the healthcare community. But before he became an expert on medical scribes, and before beginning his formal education as a physician, he was a member of the US Army, Special Operations, 1st Ranger Battalion.

Dr. Michael Murphy went from the US Army to earning his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and then earning his medical degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine in New Jersey. He’s a regular speaker about medical scribes and best practices in the industry at the annual American Association of Orthopaedic Executives conference, and has spoken on the same topic at the ECI Healthcare national conference.

As a physician and as the CEO of a medical scribe company, Dr. Michael Murphy has the opportunity to witness the medical scribe’s role from both an employer’s and from a doctor’s perspective. Read our full interview with Dr. Murphy to find out how he went from soldier to doctor and how he sees medical scribes filling a crucial role in the healthcare industry.

How would you describe the field of medical scribing to someone who is not familiar?

A medical scribe is a revolutionary concept in modern medicine. Traditionally, a physician’s job has been focusing solely on direct patient contact and care. However, the advent of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) created an overload of documentation and clerical responsibilities that slows physicians down and pulls them away from actual patient care. To relieve the documentation overload, physicians across the country are turning to medical scribe services.

A medical scribe is essentially a personal assistant to the physician; performing documentation in the EHR, gathering information from/for the patient’s visit, and partnering with the physician to deliver the pinnacle of efficient patient care.

How did your career experience and educational background lead you to co-found ScribeAmerica?

I had just gotten out of the US Army, Special Operations, 1st Ranger Battalion and I had my eyes set on medical school. While in undergrad, I discussed the pre-med path with an MD/JD who knew of the concept and a hospital that wanted to start a medical scribe program. I volunteered to start the program and saw the benefit both from a provider and patient perspective. Soon after that we founded ScribeAmerica.

Are there any particular medical scribing technologies that you are excited about? If so, how are they changing the field?

TeleScribesTM is something we are very excited about, connecting non-urban providers with a scribe essentially as an “on call” or needs basis. Think of the trauma surgeon who gets out of a case at 2am and needs to visit his or her patients, a traditional scribe would not be available but now with technology, the trauma surgeon can just focus on patient care and not data entry.

How does your military background influence the way you run ScribeAmerica?

The military has played a pivotal role in how ScribeAmerica is run. ScribeAmerica has over 610 programs across 44 states in 40+ specialties, with 5000 scribes deployed. The military taught me that the only way to maintain quality and reproducible results is to have standard operating procedures. There is a reason why one soldier in Hawaii dresses, marches, and speaks the same as a US soldier deployed in Germany. The military took most of the subjectivity out of training and has a very objective training process; we try to do the same here.

What types of qualities and skills may make a student well suited for a career as a medical scribe or medical assistant?

  • A passion for medicine
  • Ability to balance school AND work
  • Computer skills (a must and will accelerate training since most hospitals are transforming to completely electronic charting)

Do you have any other advice for students who are interested in entering the field?

Remain professional. Since you are working elbow to elbow with a board certified physician, you are listening to and engaging in very private information. Everything you do, from following instructions on the application to emailing the company, will be evaluated. This is a job, so approach it that way. If you are a successful team player, providers will want to help you.

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