Study: Primary-care clinics realize positive ROI from EHRs

Primary-care clinics recovered their financial investments in electronic health record (EHR) systems in 10 months on average, a recent study found, in part because EHRs allowed them to see more patients.

Clinic revenue increased with EHR implementation, along with the ratio of active patients per clinical full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, according to the study by researchers at Montreal's McGill University, published in JMIR Medical Informatics.

"Our analysis of the variances in the time required to achieve cost recovery from EHR investments suggests that a positive ROI does not appear automatically upon implementing an EHR and that a clinic's ability to leverage EHR for process changes seems to play a role," the researchers concluded.

"Policies that provide support to help primary care practices successfully make EHR-enabled changes, such as support of clinic workflow optimization with an EHR system, could facilitate the realization of positive ROI from EHR in primary care practices," they wrote.

All but one of the 17 primary-care clinics studied increased their net clinic revenue after implementing EHRs.

The findings are in contrast with a 2013 study published in Health Affairs finding that the average doctor would lose $43,743 over five years, and just 27 percent of practices would have achieved a positive return on investment in that time. The Health Affairs study, however, examined providers in the U.S., while the JMIR research examined providers in Canada.

Earlier this year, the Institute of Medicine proposed a model to help hospitals and other providers determine the potential financial benefits of EHR adoption.

For more information:
- read the McGill study