Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Feasibility evaluation of a pilot scribe-training program in an Australian emergency department*

Katherine Walker A B E , Matthew Johnson C , William Dunlop A , Margaret Staples B D , Hamish Rodda A , Ian Turner A and Michael Ben-Meir A
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A Emergency Department, Cabrini, 183 Wattletree Road, Malvern, Vic. 3144, Australia. Email: will.a.dunlop@gmail.com; hrodda@cabrini.com.au; iturner@cabrini.com.au; mbenmeir@cabrini.com.au

B Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, Monash University, Level 6, The Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne Vic. 3004, Australia. Email: margaret.staples@monash.edu

C Department of Education, Cabrini Institute, 154 Wattletree Road, Malvern, Vic. 3144, Australia. Email: mattjohnson@cabrini.com.au

D Department of Biostatistics, Cabrini Institute, 154 Wattletree Road, Malvern, Vic. 3144, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: katie_walker01@yahoo.com.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16188
Submitted: 23 June 2016  Accepted: 19 January 2017   Published online: 7 March 2017

Abstract

Objective Medical scribes have an emerging and expanding role in health, particularly in Emergency Medicine in the US. Scribes assist physicians with documentation and clerical tasks at the bedside while the physician consults with his or her patient. Scribes increase medical productivity. The aim of the present study was to examine the feasibility of a pilot hospital-administered scribe-training program in Australia and to evaluate the ability of an American training course (Medical Scribe Training Systems) to prepare trainee scribes for clinical training in an emergency department in Australia.

Methods The present study was a pilot, prospective, observational cohort study from September 2015 to February 2016 at Cabrini Emergency Department, Melbourne. Scribe trainees were enrolled in the pre-work course and then trained clinically. Feasibility of training scribes and limited efficacy testing of the course was undertaken.

Results The course was acceptable to users and demand for training exists. There were many implementation tasks and issues experienced and resources were required to prepare the site for scribe implementation. Ten trainees were enrolled for preclinical training. Six candidates undertook clinical training, five achieved competency (required seven to 16 clinical shifts after the preclinical course). The training course was helpful and provided a good introduction to the scribe role. The course required adaptation to a non-US setting and the specific hospital setting. In addition, it needed more detail in some common emergency department topics.

Conclusion Training scribes at a hospital in Australia is feasible. The US training course used can assist with preclinical training. Course modification is required.

What is known about the topic? Scribes increase emergency physician productivity in Australia. There is no previous work on how to train scribes in Australia.

What does this paper add? We show that implementing a scribe-training program is feasible and that a training package can be purchased from the US to train scribes in Australia and that it is useful. We also show the adaptation that the course may require to meet Australian emergency department needs.

What are the implications for practitioners? Scribes could become an additional member of the emergency department team in Australia and can be trained locally.


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