Access and Feeds

EHR Record Systems: New Electronic Systems Have Yet to Provide Expected Value

By Dick Weisinger

A few years ago physicians were scrambling to comply with new regulations that mandated the use of electronic health records (EHR).  Now that 80 percent of physicians have adopted EHRs we might expect to see some of the expected benefits that drove the adoption of the original mandate.

A new survey finds that we’re not there just yet.  Even though data is being recorded electronically, a survey by HealthMine found that only 22 percent of users with digital health records are using that information to help them make health decisions.

Jeanne Madden, associate professor at Northeastern University, said that “many people talk about EHRs as if they’re somehow complete, but they aren’t. Providers only know what happens at their own sites and what actually gets entered into their own EHRs. Insurers, meanwhile, tend to know pretty much the entire picture of the patient’s utilization.”

Many hospitals are still suffering the costs required to have implemented their EHR systems.  Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, said that “it was a risky decision as hospitals were facing the fact that they would not be back to their pre-EHR implementation patient volumes, inpatient or ambulatory, for at least another five years.  No other industry spends so much per unit of IT on the part of the business that is shrinking the fastest and holds little growth as did inpatient revenues.”

This isn’t to say that implementation of EHR systems was the wrong decision, but the benefits from the new technology are going to take a longer time to achieve than was originally expected.


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