EHR/EMR: Financial & Operational Impact & Consequences

Meaningful Use of EHR and Certification Criteria are set for 2011 & 2012.  Will compliance with these Final Rules hinder productivity?  Is there a difference in effect between specialists and primary care providers?  The cost of the EHR and Practice Management System may outweigh the HITECH incentives, such as, for example, the Medicare incentive of $44,000 over 5 years, per provider.  This is the time to make the investment, but what else should you do to make sure the value of your investment is protected?

We recently assisted a group of 18 specialists to select and implement a complete EHR/PM system, AND assist in “capturing” the incentives, available first in May 2011.  Result?  They actually will “break even”, a real success story, if the full incentive payment is received .  This will not work for every medical practice, even if the EHR consultant is well qualified to assist in implementing Meaningful Use objectives, thus capturing the incentive payments.

There has been much talk about increased productivity as a result of using EHR certified technology.  Reality may look different. There has been an historic 30%+ de-installation rate for EHR systems, for a variety of reasons.  There are technical challenges, user dysfunction –  and productivity decreases, at least in the early days of the EHR system going “live”.  An inefficient office operation will NOT become efficient just because there is now EHR technology available!

As part of the due diligence in identifying, selecting, and implementing an EHR system, an operational analysis must be done.  A practice must understand its current workflows for patient registration, intake and check-out; care in the exam room and  procedures; and charge-capturing and billing.  The analysis of these flows will be sorely needed to prepare the proper RFP (Request for Proposal) and to evaluate vendor responses and capabilities.

If you have never had a complete operational assessment, or not had one done within the last year or so, an evaluation of functions, including billing and documentation processes,  is important.  Do it now.  Find a qualified medical group and health care consultant to provide this “third party” review, create the recommendations for effective and efficient operations of the physician office, and assist you with implementing the recommendations for improvements identified. If your physician business consultant understands how to use DEA methodology (Data Envelopment Analyses), and properly apply it during the process, you will experience operational and financial improvements, measured by improved cash flow and quality outcomes – and you will be prepared to make changes in workflows as you introduce your new tool – an EHR system.  And remember, EHR vendors do not do this type of analysis; they leave it to the practice to figure out how to modify policies and practices to integrate the EHR system.

An operational assessment will help you move your practice to an optimum operational level – and protect your investment in certified EHR Technology.

When you need proven expertise and performance

Dr. Gunter G. Fuchs

Dr. Gunter G. Fuchs has over 30 years of clinical, administrative, consulting, acute care operations, and strategic planning experience in domestic and international healthcare.

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