More trained medical scribes needed in Humboldt: Physicians say performing data input themselves detracts from patient care

Local health care professionals say there is a need for more people in the area to be trained as medical scribes since the federal government now mandates medical records be digital.

College of the Redwoods Business Training Center Director Julia Peterson said the college is considering offering a class that would train Humboldt County residents as scribes, with duties including listening to doctor and patient encounters and recording medical information into electronic records.

"Members of the college's Medical Assisting Advisory Committee have said that using trained scribes in their practices really helps, and they are very interested in more being available," Peterson said. "We're hoping to develop a pilot class between now and the end of the year, which would be a mix of teaching skills such as knowing medical terminology, how to work with patients and information technology skills such as keyboarding."

Dr. Michael Mizoguchi of Humboldt Medical Eye Associates said scribes aren't just important, they're absolutely critical.

"We currently have two scribes and two doctors, which greatly helps our overall productivity," Mizoguchi said. "Without them, I would just be clicking buttons and looking at a computer screen rather than being a physician or surgeon. My relationship with my patients would be eroded significantly because we wouldn't have as much face-to-face contact during visits, which is crucial to letting them know I am really addressing their concerns."

Mad River Community Hospital does not currently use medical scribes, but employees are considering the benefits of hiring some, spokeswoman Vicky Sleight said.

"The concept of having all medical records be electronic is great, but physicians performing the data input takes away time they can spend with patients," Sleight said.

Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or