An Interview with ScribeConnect CEO Erich Rempel
We had the chance to talk with ScribeConnect’s founder and CEO about what inspired him to start the company, his passion for healthcare, and more about what drives him and the company.
Q: When did your interest in medicine/healthcare begin?
A: I was invited to join a friend who was in dental school at Loma Linda University on a dental mission trip to Guatemala. I was 24 and had never given healthcare any thought whatsoever. No one in my family was in healthcare and, for me, I had steered clear of the science buildings and classes in college. I thought anyone interested in chemistry, biology, physics and the sciences must be weird! That all changed in Guatemala seeing 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls with rotted adult teeth. All they had were completely decayed teeth at the gum line, and they suffered malnutrition because of it. It was that trip that birthed my interest in medicine.
Q: Tell us about your own experience as a medical scribe.
A: Soon after returning from the dental mission trip to Guatemala, I began taking all of the prerequisite classes for medical school. My undergraduate was in Aviation Management and Commercial Flight, so I could fly, but I had never taken a biology or chemistry class in my undergraduate studies. I joined the pre-med club at CSUSB, and one day someone gave a presentation on being a medical scribe and encouraged everyone in the club to apply. I think I had my application in within an hour of the meeting ending!
Shortly after that, I had an interview for an Emergency Department scribe position in Upland, California. I was actually offered the job during the interview! This was around 2005, and I remember studying medical terminology at home until the wee hours of the night. I was as green as can be when it came to medical terminology, medicine, the healthcare environment and “thinking like a physician.” I had no idea the new course my life would take by being a medical scribe. I worked hard those first few years to learn as much as I could. Eventually, I began helping to implement new scribe programs and loved it.
Q: What’s the hardest lesson or moment you had as a scribe?
A: I witnessed a mother crying, wailing, pleading at the bedside of her 9-year-old son for him to survive. He was healthy and fine just minutes earlier. Then he suddenly became pale, listless, and ultimately lifeless. She called 911, but her son was essentially dead on arrival despite every life-saving measure available. I had witnessed older people die of heart attacks, strokes, traumas, and other diseases. But this was the first time I was involved in the passing of a child.
Something inside of me “shifted” – perhaps it was my innocence. I realized at that moment that life is fragile and unfair. Completely “unfair.” Soon after that, my older sister passed away from cancer at 29, and my younger sister passed away from a car accident at the age of 19. I think those experiences really galvanized in me the desire to make the most of my time on earth.
Q: What’s the best lesson you learned as a scribe?
A: Communication matters! I remember early on when I was a scribe at another company, I would ask for feedback on my performance. Not only did I not receive feedback, but the providers had no way of expressing their concerns or ideas to the company’s management. If they had an issue or concern, there were no channels in place to receive those concerns. Because there was little to no communication, scribe and physician frustration grew. I realized that as a service company, good communication is a MUST.
Q: Why did you start ScribeConnect?
A: I had worked as a scribe and in the scribe industry for 7 years when the scribe industry was just starting out. It was an immature industry, and it still is in many ways. But while I worked as a scribe, there were many, many things that I recognized as broken or insufficient. I filed those things away in the back of my mind and thought, “If I ever had the opportunity to do something about X, Y, Z, I’d do those things differently.”
I never intentionally set out to start a scribe service, but when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it. I remembered all of those things that I had experienced as a scribe, and I made a commitment that I’d do things differently. Specifically, ScribeConnect focuses on education, communication, and the importance of each individual on our team.
Q: How have you seen scribing’s place in healthcare change over the years?
A: Early on, in the early 2000’s, scribing was new to most all of healthcare. It was an education game: teaching providers and administrators what scribing was all about. There weren’t a whole lot of metrics or information regarding the use of scribes in healthcare.
Today, there are very few people in healthcare who are unaware of scribes and what we do. Scribing has become generally accepted and understood throughout all areas of healthcare. Many physicians and facilities now depend on scribes as an integral part of the patient care team. It is no longer about educating healthcare about scribes. Now it’s about differentiating ourselves through the quality, care, and service that we provide.
Q: Where do you see the industry overall going?
A: It is estimated that today there are around 40,000 scribes in the United States. At the same time, there are about 800,000 physicians practicing today. This obviously leaves a lot of room for growth, and ScribeConnect is positioned as the leader in genuine quality service within the industry.
Q: Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do?
A: When I’m not working, I love spending time with my wife and three kids. Being a father is the most amazing thing ever and has taught me more about communication, love, and patience than any other aspect of life. On the off-chance that I’m not working on ScribeConnect or spending time with my family, I love to get out and run trails in the mountains. I also love to work and be creative with my hands. For example, I always seem to have a construction project in progress at our house!
Q: What aspect of your personality do you think is most reflected in ScribeConnect’s company culture and values?
A: Genuine care. I think many companies say they care, but at ScribeConnect, the care each team member cultivates permeates throughout the company. We care deeply about the education we provide, the culture we develop, the love we have for each other, and the service we provide. It’s inspiring to me to meet with the various teams we have and hear the stories each month of what they’ve accomplished.
We also work hard and play hard! I know for myself that if I am not balanced in my time with my family, physical exercise, and in my relationship with Christ my Lord, then I tend to get edgy. When I’m balanced, I can work hard and play hard. This focus on a balanced lifestyle is encouraged and celebrated throughout our teams at ScribeConnect.