HIMSS defines Electronic Health Records (EHR) as a longitudinal electronic record of patient health information generated by one or more encounters in any care delivery setting. The information includes patient demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data and radiology reports. Electronic Health Record software not only automates and streamlines the clinician’s workflow; it also has the ability to generate a complete record of a clinical patient encounter – as well as supporting other care-related activities including evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting.
Electronic health records not only improve the quality of patient care and decrease medical errors, but also help increase revenues and reduce administrative costs. Physicians can realize competitive advantages and improve the profitability of their business which is more important than ever before.
Since measuring return on investment (ROI) on EHR implementation is not very easy on account of an overwhelming number of qualitative benefits, most literature is filled with enumerating the qualitative benefits of EHRs. These include, but are not limited to:
Built-in error detection mechanism enhances patient safety and improves quality of patient care
Ability to ePrescribe from within EHR software
Instant access to key patient data from anywhere
Highly secure due to role-based access to clinical information
More efficient tracking of patients and costs
Better documentation and improved audit capabilities
Avoidance of repeating expensive tests and more time spent with patients
Optimized workflow and less errors across the whole patient care cycle
Easy integration of EHR software with several clinical systems due to HL-7 compatibility
Optimizes reimbursement process due to accurate coding and fewer rejected claims
Improves charge capture: In a case study (Nick Fabrizio, July 2005, QIO Presentation quote), a family medicine physician while seeing same number of patients increased revenues by $3000 per month due to timely visit documentation and automated charge capture.
Helps maximize billing: When using paper charts, to be on the safe side of the law, many physicians down code (use a lower billing code), rather than use an appropriate level of code. Medical Economics magazine has estimated that physicians, who routinely down-code to avoid audits, lose an average of $40,000 annually.
Reduces Transcription costs: According to Medical Economics (March 2002), physicians spend between $15,000 and $25,000 over the course of a year for transcription-related services.
Reduces Storage costs: A case study revealed that a 12-physician practice saved $5,000 a year in storage space after converting to EHR. In another study, a major medical center in Boston seeing 750,000 patients a year, estimated they will save $6 million annually by reducing their dependence on paper records.
Reduces liability and malpractice insurance premiums: In a 2005 survey by the Medical Liability Monitor, a four-state average of the highest liability rates for OB/GYN was $230,919. With a two to five percent credit from malpractice insurance companies, clinics would save $4,600 to $11,500 per provider, per year, if they implemented an EHR.