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Preparations before implementing EHRs

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If your practice is using the latest tools to help grow and maintain itself, understanding what the adoption of electronic tools and how to best utilize them for your group can go a long way in determining how they can enhance, not hinder the practice’s success. A recent survey suggests that adopting electronic health records without making other changes in a practice may result in an overall loss for a practice.

According to researchers, survey data taken from forty nine practice areas examined a five-year return on the investment of the electronic health record systems, also known as EHRs. The data suggests an average physician would lose $43,743 over a five-year period and only a little more than a quarter of all practices would actually see a return on their investment within that time period.

Additionally, for those who received a $44,000 federal incentive to adopt the EHRs, some 14 percent of practices would come out ahead on top of the 27 percent, but the majority would still lose money.

Researchers said the primary difference between practices who saw a return and those who suffered loss was the extent which they utilized the EHRs to increase their revenues. Actions such as working to see more patients daily or improve their billing, resulting in more accurate claims submitted to insurance companies the first time seemed to have the greatest positive effect.

Additionally, many practices did not see a savings in the EHRs over a traditional paper system because they continued to also keep paper records. Taking measures to ensure a positive return was especially important for smaller practices.

Researchers from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, University of Rochester (New York) and Harvard Medical School in Boston contributed to the research.

If you are considering implementing an electronic health records system in your practice, it is best to do your research before making any decision. The article “Don’t let your next IT project crash your practice”  offers these practical tips.

  • Do due diligence on the vendor and the technology – at minimum, speak with other physicians who are utilizing the technology you are hoping to buy. They can give you honest reviews about what was good, what was challenging and what was most helpful.
  • Don’t automatically take a solution offered by an existing vendor – as with anything, shop around. Ask colleagues who they use and recommend. An existing vendor may be your best option, but it is always best to check out all the options first.
  • Don’t skip acceptance testing – it is vital to make sure all systems are properly connected and working and with technology always evolving, it is important to make sure everything truly is in place.
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