How EHR Optimization can Maximize ROI
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a critical component of the US healthcare system as they contain comprehensive information about patients' medical histories and treatment plans. Now that more than 95% of hospitals in the U.S. use EHRs, the focus is beginning to shift. Simply using EHRs is not enough. It is crucial to understand them and ensure their optimization to achieve the maximum benefit.
What is EHR Optimization?
EHR Intelligence defines EHR optimization as “the process of refining an install of EHR software to serve a practice's own needs and which tends to focus on clinical productivity and efficiency.”
In other words, EHR optimization aims to reduce the time your physicians are spending trying to retrieve EHRs, reduce your administrative burden and make EHR usability easier. This is done by finding and resolving technical bottlenecks such as aging hardware, user experience issues and other problems taking over the time of physicians, nurses and administrators.
Importance of Prioritizing EHR Optimization
Neglecting EHR optimization can lead to various issues such as coding errors, denied claims, user experience problems, and more, which results in reduced productivity and poor ROI for care providers. These issues accumulate over time and can have a significant impact on healthcare organizations.
Therefore, healthcare organizations must recognize the importance of EHR optimization. According to surveys conducted by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), many organizations are prioritizing EHR optimization. In 2017, 38% of CHIME members said they are prioritizing EHR optimization for their organizations. However, in 2022, another CHIME survey showed that 19% of the respondents were dissatisfied with their EHR system, indicating that there is still much work to be done to optimize EHRs.
Benefits of EHR Optimization
EHR optimization can help healthcare organizations achieve a positive ROI by streamlining workflows, minimizing errors, and enhancing communication among healthcare providers. By optimizing EHRs, care providers can manage patient information more efficiently, which can lead to improved patient outcomes.
Furthermore, optimizing EHR systems can facilitate better data management and analytics, enabling healthcare organizations to identify areas for improvement and build data-driven strategies. With data analytics, organizations can assess the effectiveness of their processes and make informed decisions based on the data. This can lead to significant cost savings and improved patient outcomes.
Indirect benefits of an EHR system make it difficult to measure ROI
The implementation of electronic health records involves several aspects and presents a challenge in realizing a return on investment (ROI). While it can improve internal operations, automate processes, and make physicians' routine tasks more convenient, it also has intangible benefits such as enhancing the patient experience. Additionally, the ROI of EHR implementation includes both short- and long-term consequences, which may not all be immediately noticeable.
Therefore, evaluating the ROI of EHR requires a multi-faceted approach that includes both quantitative and qualitative measures to assess its impact on the services provided.
Qualitative Metrics to Track for EHR ROI Assessment
Enhanced Quality of Care
Electronic health records (EHRs) adoption can improve the quality of care by making healthcare more patient-centric. With all critical patient information gathered in one place, clinicians can make more informed treatment decisions, prevent allergic reactions, and reduce side effects. Collaboration between healthcare departments also becomes more streamlined, leading to better patient outcomes. While not directly impacting EHR ROI, enhanced quality of care is a significant factor in EHR software's overall return on investment.
Advanced EHR systems with automated data analysis and patient health tracking capabilities can help identify potential risks and prevent readmissions. The University of Kansas Health System reduced its readmission rate by over 11% after adopting predictive analytics. This can lead to significant cost savings, as the average cost per readmission across payers is $15,200 for all diagnoses. Illness management software linked with EHR can also save healthcare expenses by $136 per person per month due to fewer hospitalizations.
Interoperability is crucial for correctly implementing and configuring EHR systems. It is essential to ensure all EHR components exchange information smoothly and securely. With a fast and reliable system, healthcare teams can be more productive, leading to a higher ROI for EHR. However, measuring interoperability can be tricky.
More Satisfied Physicians
While some physicians resist using EHR systems, 75% of them admit to the positive impact of EHR. Studies also confirm the correlation between provider satisfaction and perceived patient impact. With physician satisfaction, EHR adoption can have positive effects on patient outcomes.
EHR implementation requires document standardization, making EHR data migration and processing more manageable. Templates can speed up document procedures and facilitate regulatory compliance. Furthermore, 36% of physicians view documentation optimization as an opportunity to enhance the efficiency of their work, making medical teams more satisfied with their healthcare systems.
Quantifiable Metrics to Track for EHR ROI Assessment
Apart from the listed qualitative benefits, there are some quantifiable metrics to calculate the exact return on investment for an EHR system.
One significant metric is increased revenue, Electronic health records (EHRs) adoption can improve the quality of care by making healthcare more patient-centric. With all critical patient information gathered in one place, clinicians can make more informed treatment decisions, prevent allergic reactions, and reduce side effects. Collaboration between healthcare departments also becomes more streamlined, leading to better patient outcomes. While not directly impacting EHR ROI, enhanced quality of care is a significant factor in EHR software's overall return on investment.
Another metric is lower expenses. EHR implementation helps reduce costs by cutting expenses such as infrastructure, labor, IT, and human error costs. With cloud based EHR systems, healthcare organizations do not need to maintain on-site servers and regularly invest in infrastructure upgrades, saving on infrastructure and administrative costs. EHR systems also reduce human error costs by preventing mistakes, which saves money that would have been lost due to mistreatment or data leakage.
Operational efficiency is the third metric used to measure the ROI of EHR software. EHR systems allow healthcare organizations to track bed availability, patient flow, and equipment usage data, which help redistribute resources and increase operational efficiency. When internal systems perform better, the ROI of EHR also increases.
Ways to Optimize EHR Return on Investment
It is crucial to understand the metrics that demonstrate achieving ROI from EHR and rely on these indicators to measure the impact of EHR implementation. If the integrated EHR system does not perform as expected, there are ways to fix it.
Here are some tips to maximize EHR ROI:
Start Optimization Four to Six Weeks After Go-Live
Measuring the impact of software implementation on revenue four to six weeks after go-live is the optimal period to record short- and long-term impact.
Ensure Interoperability and Centralized Operations
Interoperability is crucial for electronic systems to perform best. Hence, ensuring all components exchange data smoothly is essential.
Pre-fill Frequently Used Information
Automatically entering details in forms, reports, and other templates speeds up the routine tasks of healthcare teams and patients.
Moving EHR Data and Operations to the Cloud
Cloud-based systems can simplify updates, enhance scalability, optimize operations, reduce costs, and bring many other benefits.
Implement Additional Features
After auditing current software, consult EHR vendors to identify useful add-ons that can bring maximum value.
Continuously Update EHR
Regular updates are crucial even after EHR implementation to improve organizational efficiency and meet changing regulatory requirements.
Conduct practical training for different departments and monitor the system's use to ensure the team leverages all software capabilities.
Improve EHR Data Quality and Value
Unlock the valuable data in EHR systems using analytics to get insights on value-based programs, billing optimization, cash flow, and population health initiatives.
Reduce Patient Cancellation Rates
Automating the appointment reminder process can impact cancel and no-show ratios significantly, increasing the arrival rate and boosting revenue.
Find a Tech Partner and Consultant
A software development company with healthcare expertise can advise on the best ways to maximize EHR ROI and assist with related tech issues.
Get started with EHR optimization
Only digital systems are unquestionably beneficial: in a 2017 Medical Economics poll, many physicians stated that EHRs were detrimental to their practice. They discovered several pain points, including a lack of usability, interoperability concerns, and the inability to personalize the system. As a result, it is unquestionably vital to be able to critically examine a current EHR system and continue to optimize it regularly.
Consider KPi-Tech as your Trusted Tech Partner
KPi-Tech is a custom healthcare IT company that provides software development, Interoperability, and optimization services. Our solutions and services help enhance your current EHR. These solutions include making clinical documents, DICOM studies, point-of-care images, and more accessible to clinicians via the EHR interface — increasing adoption of this core clinical platform by making it a more valuable tool in the delivery of care.