5 keys to improve EHR return on investment

Achieving Meaningful Use is a necessary component for a positive return on an electronic health record system investment for physicians, but it's not sufficient to drive a "real" return on investment, according to speakers participating on a recent webinar conducted by EHR vendor CareCloud.

"Meaningful Use is the ultimate return on investment and sets you up for good fundamentals [to reap a better ROI]," said Michael Pepe, EHR implementation project manager for the company.

For a higher return on investment, physicians also should increase patient volume by reducing documentation times, according to Grant Ho, senior director of product marketing at CareCloud. What's more, he said, reducing office friction and inefficiencies with good tasking, charting to cut workloads, and seeking higher reimbursement via integration with the a provider's billing software also can help to maximize ROI.

Pepe added that simplifying the Meaningful Use attestation process through regular monitoring of reports also can help to improve ROI, since it's than more likely that physicians will earn the incentive payment. Physicians, he said, also should be aware of and plan for their workflow to change when they move to an EHR.

There is considerable evidence that physicians are not maximizing their return on investment from their EHRs. A study published last month in Health Affairs revealed that physicians lost nearly $44,000 over five years of their adoption of an EHR, mainly because they don't change their operations to accommodate changes in record keeping. Other studies have shown that physicians continue to cling to paper and EHR workarounds rather than modifying their workflow and taking advantage of EHR functionalities.