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Meet ScribeAmerica: an interview with company CEO Michael Murphy

What makes a great company? Is it the product? The business plan? Likely all of the above, but Michael Murphy, MD and CEO of ScribeAmerica, says that what makes his company a great one is the amazing team of everyone from those working in operations and leadership down on to project leaders and the scribes themselves.

“I always like to tell people that we’re a national mom and pop shop,” said Murphy. “Our entire team is dedicated to helping physicians provide better care to their patients.”

That approach has certainly served ScribeAmerica well since its founding in 2003.

From startup to industry leader

“We saw the need, and how much benefit there was behind medical scribes,” said Murphy. Murphy and his founding team of Luis Moreno, MD and Sarah Lamb, who now serve as Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operations Office respectively, recognized that rapid advances in medical technology would eventually make medical scribes necessary. “We knew that medical scribes would be in demand at some point,” said Murphy.

The company continued to grow steadily until 2007 when an endorsement from the premier Emergency Medicine business experts PSR catapulted the company to new heights. This coupled with former President George W. Bush’s announcement of federal funding and current President Obama signing it into law, for EHR implementation only caused ScribeAmerica’s star to keep rising.

The biggest things that Murphy sees as fueling big growth for the company over the next several years are federal mandates like the Affordable Care Act, ICD-10, and the Two Midnight Rule which increase compliance demands on hospitals and private practices

“At the end of the day medical scribes are going to be the standard in health care, they will be part of the team; a physician, nurse, tech and a medical scribe” said Murphy.

The ingredients for success

But as more interest nationwide has fueled ScribeAmerica’s growth, that interest has also fueled the growth of the industry as a whole. In 2003 there was only one other scribe company in the U.S., now in 2013 there are at least 12 companies competing in the same space as ScribeAmerica.

But Murphy sees it as no cause for alarm. ScribeAmerica has more than 10 years of experience in the scribing industry and currently maintains scribes at 340 different locations around the country. Those years of experience are something that the competition cannot leverage, he says.

Not that they haven’t tried. ScribeAmerica has invested heavily into its training materials for new scribes, even going so far as to publish the first and currently only, textbook on medical scribing. The company’s training materials are so good in fact that they’ve been the subject of theft controversies as several former ScribeAmerica project leaders have tried to use them to start rival companies.

Another reason for ScribeAmerica vast success is their unique business model of profit sharing with project leaders, who are the ones responsible for spearheading the process of identifying, training, and managing a brand new medical scribe staff. They are also responsible for managing the sites after the training period. “When someone takes ownership and has a vested interest in something that they are doing, it makes all the difference not only to them but the client as well” said Murphy.

There is ample evidence that ScribeAmerica’s training produces some of the best scribes in the country, and Murphy regularly gets emails from clients thankful for their scribes like this one from a hospital in Florida:

“Yesterday evening when I came in to the ER I found the department in disarray.  Not totally unexpected for a Monday, but stressful and chaotic nonetheless.  There were twenty-plus patients who had not been seen and 3-4 hour wait times with ambulances pouring in.

What appeared to be an impending disaster was avoided in a large part by our scribe program.  After a few phone calls from Rebecca, two scribes (Julie and Sophia) came in even though they were not scheduled to work, to help out.  With the assistance of the scribes, the other physicians and I were able to see many more patients and dig the department out of a jam.  (2.75 primary patients per hour over the course of my shift, which far exceeds my historical ability)   Additionally, having another person there to take away the stress of accumulating multiple dictations certainly helped our overall outlook and mood during the rest of the night.  I left my shift on time and with an empty chart rack satisfied with not only the volume of patients we moved but also with the quality of care we provided and I think a very large part of that outcome was directly related to the efforts of these two scribes.”

Looking ahead

However despite great success both for ScribeAmerica and the industry as a whole there are still challenges to be overcome in the future. One challenge is getting hospitals and private practices to see past the cost of having medical scribes, and focus on how quickly a scribe program will pay for itself.

However any challenges will likely be heavily outweighed by the big changes happening in the American health care industry over the coming year, and beyond.

“We’re in a paradigm shift in medicine right now,” said Murphy. “It is a unprecedented time in health care, and medical scribes will definitely need to be an essential part for the future.”

At the end of the day though, ScribeAmerica is all about helping physicians deliver the best care they can.

“I love when you can see the real impact that scribes make,” said Murphy. “When you implement a new scribe program and see both patient and physicians satisfaction improve and providers can now solely focus on providing the best care they can, you see that positive impact, its real!

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