Achieve positive long term ROI through EHR, Study shows

Around 70% of papers examining the impact of health IT systems such as EHRs/ EMRs, CPOE, clinical decision support and information systems were reported to show a positive ROI in the long run, a review of 33 academic studies published in the journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA). Only 2 of the 33 studies came back with negative findings while the rest of the studies reported a positive long term ROI results on the use of EHRs. The amount of money saved depended varied from system to system.

When a providers is shelling out thousands of dollars to adopt and implement an HER system, ROI and value for money remain the main concerns, even if they plan to offset the cost with meaningful use incentives down the line.  While National Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari recently urged patience for those seeking to justify the enormous expenses involved for many providers, the question of whether or not their patience will ever be rewarded has not yet been answered satisfactorily, despite government assurances that health IT will ultimately streamline the healthcare system and reduce costs.

Of the papers that included concrete figures, the results were encouraging.  One study found that CPOE saved $12,700 per adverse drug event (ADE) that it prevented, and another showed that an EHR system saved $3 per patient encounter, adding up to a total of $184,627 per provider for an ambulatory surgery clinic over four years.  The clinic spent about $10,000 per provider to implement the EHR.  Another ambulatory clinic saved $86,400 per provider over five years of EHR use.

“Based on these findings, we speculate that currently there is some evidence that HIS can improve care in areas such as primary care, medication management, and disease management,” the study states, “but they can be expensive to implement and maintain over time and require a great deal of effort to ensure the adoption is done ‘properly’ to reap the benefits.”  The study suggests that adopters research cost and outcome options before choosing and implementing an EHR in order to provide the maximum financial return.

“The value of health IT may not be solely expressed in economic terms,” the paper concludes. “However, the reality is that decision makers need to be able to justify investment, which makes economic evaluations necessary.”  Studying the economic outcomes of early adopters and drawing lessons from their successes and failures can “bring us closer to the long term goal of achieving value for money for health information systems.”


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