Archive May 2017 XVIII, No. 5

Business Advisor: Clearing 8 Common EHR Hurdles

Anxious over a transition to electronic records? Fear not.

Paul Kuo

Paul Kuo

BIO

EHR training EASE OF USE Continued EHR training can help staff members who may be reluctant or fearful to embrace change.

Electronic health records. To some, these 3 words are music to the ears. To others, they make the blood run cold. There's no denying that transitioning to EHRs comes with its share of challenges. But in many ways EHRs represent a significant upgrade from the pen-and-paper era — and they're only going to get better as users learn how to unlock their potential. Here are 8 of the most common anxieties people have about the transition to EHRs, along with some prescriptions for overcoming the real-life hurdles.

"It costs too much." An EHR system requires a significant investment of financial capital, not including the expense of the time required to use it effectively. One study (osmag.net/MZe7Bd) puts the implementation cost for a 5-physician practice at $162,000, with $85,500 in first-year maintenance expenses. Until recently, it was difficult to determine ROI surrounding the adoption of EHRs, but the technology is beginning to have a measurable impact on reimbursements. EHR systems can facilitate more accurate patient information, which can affect claim accuracy and, in turn, collection rate. Also, the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs can help to cushion the blow. Individual providers "who adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use" of certified EHR technology may receive $44,000 to $63,750, while hospitals may be eligible to receive more than $2 million.

"It will detract from our ability to focus on the patient." During the transition period, it's common for users to be more focused on following the new steps required to fill out or retrieve information from a patient record, as opposed to truly engaging the patient. Early on you may be preoccupied with the screen in front of you, but the process tends to become second nature over time.

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