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EHR Use Shows Little Impact on Improving Revenue, Operations

A recent survey of CHIME CIOs showed a disparity between increased EHR data availability and its impact on revenue and operations margins in hospitals.

EHR Use

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- A recent survey of College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) CIOs showed a disparity between EHR data availability and its effect on revenue and operations margins in hospitals.

While federal incentives are pushing the healthcare industry toward a value-based care system prioritizing health data availability and quality patient care, more data has not translated to improved efficiencies across the board.

Conducted jointly by CHIME and healthcare software company LeanTaaS, the survey polled hospital CIOs on their views regarding EHR data and improvements in hospital operating margins and revenue.

According to the survey, 24 percent of respondents view improving clinical outcomes as the most effective use of EHR data, while only 10 percent believe improvements in operational efficiencies is the best use of this information.

Additionally, only 6 percent of respondents cited reducing readmissions as the most effective use of EHR data, and a scant 2 percent perceived EHR data as being useful in reducing unnecessary admissions.

“This disparity perhaps reveals the uneven state of EHR deployments today; those that deployed early have begun to appreciate the potential use of EHR data at a more macro level, while those still wrestling with their implementations remain focused on the more obvious and immediately benefits of the technology,” wrote President of Healthcare & CMO at LeanTaas Sanjeev Agrawal.

While only a tenth of surveyed CHIME CIOs feel EHR data is most effective in increasing operational efficiencies, CIOs place a high priority on its optimization.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents cited improvements in emergency room and operating room efficiencies as the best way to improve operational margins. Increasing these efficiencies was second only to reducing labor costs, with 35 percent of CIOs agreeing the initiative would lead to operational margin improvements.

In terms of improving revenue, 52 percent of surveyed CIOs cited optimizing revenue from equipment utilization as most effective.

The survey also addressed potential barriers CIOs considered constraints to launching new initiatives.

More than half of participants stated budgetary limitations were the biggest challenge to launching new initiatives.

“That’s not surprising in light of providers being asked to do more with less, but more concerning is that 33% of respondents cited the lack of support resources as their biggest obstacle,” stated Agrawal.

The observed disconnect between improvements in data availability through EHR systems and its impact on improving revenue and operations margins in hospitals reflects a potential hesitance on the part of providers to use available data meaningfully. 

“Overall, the survey confirms the suspicions of many: Healthcare providers are moving slowly to incorporate data science into their approaches to all but the most obvious use cases,” said Agrawal. “True, the complexity, effort, and expense of EHR implementation are to blame for a lot of the caution, but looking beyond improving clinical outcomes should accelerate – not slow – the use of EHR data for other purposes.”

While providers have made efforts to utilize EHR data to improve clinical efficiencies in areas including care coordination and patient safety, fewer efforts have been made in the interest of exploring the effects of the technology on improving the operational side of hospital processes.

“Using this data to improve operational efficiencies while continuing to refine its use for improving clinical outcomes serves both ends: More efficient use of assets increases operating margins and revenue for hospitals and contributes to better clinical outcomes for patients,” Agrawal concluded.

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