By Catherine Palmigiano, Scribe

Hi, my name is Catherine Palmigiano and I am a scribe for Lakeside Vision in Hawley, Pennsylvania. What is a Scribe and what do we do? Scribes are a great way for optometrists to improve a practice. A scribe is a doctor’s assistant, helping with note taking, impressions, coding, and billing. These essential functions free the optometrist of routine responsibilities to provide greater medical care and education for the patient. Scribes enable the doctors to see more patients by assuming routine tasks typical of patient care. Correctly coding and ensuring that patients return for proper diagnostic testing at specified times are also a scribe’s duties and vital for any practice to run smoothly and efficiently.

My day
Here’s an example of my day as a scribe. I get into the office with a good cup of coffee and review the patient schedule. Soon after the first patient arrives, I open their EMR (Electronic Medical Record) chart and review the appointment type and the type of information this appointment will require. The practice I work with has two types of appointments: Comprehensive Eye and Medical.

Comprehensive Eye appointments entail five different screenings that provide basic health information about the patient’s eyes. This includes auto-refraction, a visual field screening, optomap, fundus photos, and a spectralis OCT. These screenings provide the doctor with impressions and plans that are patient specific as well as the final eyeglass prescription (if needed). As the doctor is reviewing, speaking, and educating the patient, the scribe is updating the patient’s chart in real time during the exam. While the doctor is “fine-tuning” the patient’s prescription, scribes are prepping other patients’ charts as they’re checking in. Once the prescription is complete to the patient’s and doctor’s satisfaction, it is documented and saved to the patient’s profile. The scribe will then walk the patient to the optical department where the patient meets with the optician to select eyewear.

Medical Eye appointments entail extended testing compared to a Comprehensive Eye exam. They include extended visual field testing and ultrasounds. A medical exam is based on the patient’s comprehensive eye exam results and is needed to determine potential eye diseases or other afflictions. Once the doctor reviews extended test results and the scribe inputs all impressions and plans, the doctor may refer the patient to a specialist. The scribe must make sure all coding is accurate and the details are correct before charges are sent for insurance review and billing. Like comprehensive appointments, the scribe then moves to the next patient, keeping the doctor on task and ensuring appointments are maintained as scheduled.

At the end of the day
A scribe is an essential part of the office team, allowing the doctor more availability to interact with patients. By supporting the doctor with routine tasks, the scribe is fundamental to ensuring the more efficient and personalized eye care that patients appreciate.