The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) is expected to help the U.S. curb rising healthcare costs by eliminating medical errors, increasing the speed of access to data, improving the quality of decision making and avoiding duplication of services. In the initial stage of the implementation, many healthcare providers feared that the adoption of this new health information technology would increase their costs and affect revenue, despite the fact that the government is spending billions of dollars in the form of incentives to encourage EHR adoption.
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that the EHR adoption by doctors can help in driving down health costs in community-based establishments such as private practices and community hospitals. Researchers analyzed and compared information about insurance claims for patient care at three Massachusetts healthcare communities that implemented EHRs with six communities that did not adopt them. They found outpatient costs in the three Massachusetts communities did not increase as fast as that in the six communities that did not adopt EHRs. The difference in the cost rise between the two groups was around 3 percent.
The researchers found significant cost reductions in outpatient radiology testing after analyzing insurance claims dating from January 2005 to June 2009. However, they did not find any significant savings with regard to lab or outpatient pharmacy care, inpatient care and the total cost of care. The Annals of Internal Medicine study put forward three suggestions that can enhance the cost-effectiveness of EHRs:
- Providing technical assistance for EHR implementation
- Providing monetary support for the purchase and setting up of EHRs
- Creating an efficient data exchange infrastructure
Regardless of the benefits that EHR implementation will offer, the physician’s transcript from his dictation is often the best way to tell the patient’s story with all the vital details. Many experts also point out that entering information into the EHR can take up the physician’s valuable time that could go into patient care. The solution lies in blending EHR with dictation-transcription. Professional medical transcription companies can provide documentation solutions with feeds for EHR.
For producing more revenue out of your practice, you need to allot more of your time on patient care services but they are spent on EHR documentation. With the professional assistance from a medical transcription firm, you can feed patients’ medical data into the EHR with the help of HL7 interface provided by the transcription firm. By partnering with a reliable transcription firm, you can save 30 – 40% on operational costs.