Study: EHRs Linked to Higher Revenue, Lower Patient Volume

September 5, 2014 in News

Electronic health record implementation can result in reduced patient volume but can increase revenue over the long term, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Becker’s Hospital Review‘s “Hospital CIO” reports (Gregg, “Hospital CIO,” Becker’s Hospital Review, 9/3).

For the study, researchers from Drexel University compared patient volume and reimbursement at 30 ambulatory practices in the two years after EHR implementation with the practices’ pre-implementation baseline (Pedulli, Clinical Innovation Technology, 9/4).

Study Findings

The study found that practices’ reimbursements increased “significantly,” even as their number of patient visits declined (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 9/2). Specifically, practices on average submitted claims for 94 additional ancillary procedures per quarter after implementing an EHR system, while patient volume decreased on average by about 108 patients per quarter (“Hospital CIO,” Becker’s Hospital Review, 9/3).

The researchers wrote they did not find any indication of “upcoding or increased reimbursement rates to explain the increased revenues” (Clinical Innovation Technology, 9/4).

They noted that their finding of increased revenues “is reassuring and offers a basis for further EHR investment,” while their finding of decreased patient volume indicated that EHR systems were increasing practices’ efficiency.

They recommended that any practices continuing to see declines in patient volume two years after implementing EHR systems should add analytics functionality to their EHR system to “focus on seeing the right patients” (FierceEMR, 9/2).

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