Twenty years ago, most hospitals and other providers used paper-based patient charts and other information kept in folders in file cabinets. Updating patient information or transferring records to another facility altogether, were time-consuming and cumbersome tasks.
In 2009, President Obama announced the goal of reducing “red tape” as well as wasted effort from duplicate testing or treatments while improving care outcomes by computerizing medical records. To encourage providers to get on board with the new systems, various financial incentives were offered.
To date, approximately 87 percent of hospitals and 54 percent of office-based practices utilize electronic health records (EHRs), so a certain level of success has been achieved. However, the underlying goals of reducing waste and improving efficiency as well as care outcomes have fallen short.
Where has EHR failed to deliver?
According to the publishers of Medical Economics’ recent surveys of practitioners across the US, much of the problem is due to disconnect between practitioners and the systems marketplace: providers should be able to use real-life situations in designing truly workable tools, rather than resorting to making do with ill-suited templates and other inadequacies of their EHRs. The top three complaints were:
- Cost: initial outlay, upgrades and staff straining
45 percent of the survey reported that they had spent over $100,000, with over 77 percent of the largest practices spending almost $200,000 on systems. Although providers can receive up to $63,000 from Medicaid’s Meaningful Use (MU) and $44,000 through the Medicare EHR’s MU program, many physicians state it fails to offset the costs of outlay, staff training and other expenses of implementation.
· Lack of interoperability between systems
Lack of interoperability is near the top of the complaints list, as it interferes with the seamless transfer of information between providers, payers and patients, particularly when systems are provided by different vendors. The Medical Economics' study of 1,000 providers revealed that 66 percent of internists stated that they would not buy their current systems over again if given a choice.
· Unanticipated costs accompanied by lowered physician productivity
Even as they have had to increase office staff to keep up with extra data entry tasks, 45 percent of respondents overall believe that patient care quality has dropped since implementing EHRs, with 23 percent of internists believing care has gotten worse due to more time spent entering data and less face time with patients.
Suggestions for improving the EHR experience for physicians and patients:
- Participating with health information exchanges (HIEs) can smooth communications between providers and patients.
- Working closely with vendors to improve interoperability between systems can facilitate a HIE, allowing for better accuracy and transparency between providers and patients.
- One of the problems for providers is the need to reconfigure and customize EHRs to meet the unique needs of their practice, while striving to minimize online time at the expense of patient interaction. Vendors who fail to understand what practitioners need in a system will not be able to deliver one which is workable for all users.
Partner with a professional medical billing service
Working with an experienced medical billing and practice support service, such as M-Scribe Medical Billing, can reduce the need for hiring and training additional billing and coding staff for many practices, especially in smaller offices where EHR–related expenses may create a heavier cost burden. M-Scribe’s claims professionals utilize the latest in claims technologies, making it compatible with most practice’s systems, as well as keeping updated in the latest changes in government and industry regulations.
Contact one of M-Scribe online or at 1-888-727-4234 for a free evaluation of your practice’s needs today, and learn how partnering with an established medical claims service can increase revenues while ensuring compliance.