The Institute of Medicine has released a proposed model to help hospitals and others assess the potential financial benefits of adopting electronic health records.
The proposed framework and model, published Jan. 6, is intended to evaluate a provider's EHR investment by making inter-organizational comparisons, help identify "best-in-class" implementation approaches and prioritize process redesign endeavors.
"Although it may seem obvious that both the demands for higher reliability and higher-value health care require robust electronic health records, information exchange, and deep analytic capabilities, it remains difficult to measure the return on investment in information systems," authors of a discussion paper published on the model said. "The lack of a standard model for ascribing the costs of implementing or the benefits of using EHRs and related technology makes comparisons across different institutional experiences, different implementation approaches, and different technologies difficult.
"Moreover," they added, "the absence of a format for a standard business case for information investment may add to the hesitation for investment in information systems and thwart progress in creating the reliable digital foundation needed for a continuously learning health system."
In a Health Affairs Blog post on the model, Jonathan Perlin, chair elect of the American Hospital Association and Chief Medical Officer of Hospital Corporation of America, noted that the proposed standard model will not only help evaluate the benefits and costs of EHRs but could "help accelerate improvements in the technology itself." Perlin is listed as a co-author of the discussion paper.
The Meaningful Use program has spurred implementation of EHR systems, but the inability to fully compare and assess their worth likely contributed to faulty purchasing decisions and user dissatisfaction. It also may have hindered providers' ability to fully utilize their systems.