Blue plan: EMRs don't offer good ROI, but CPOE does

Most of the talk around electronic medical records to date has come with the assumption that such systems would not only improve care, they'd also save money. Well, one health plan has decided that this just isn't so. Based on its review of available research, BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts has concluded that it won't make physicians install an EMR to take part in its pay-for-performance program. Among the research it reviewed was an American Medical Association study that estimated that doctors see only 11 cents of every dollars saved through health IT use. Along the way, meanwhile, the health plan concluded that computerized physician order entry programs actually do make financial sense within hospitals, and will require health systems to install CPOE systems by 2012 to participate in its P4P program.

A recent study by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the New England Healthcare Institute found that CPOE systems could prevent 55,000 medication errors in Massachusetts and save $170 million statewide per year ($2.7 million per hospital). Given an estimated cost of $2.1 million to implement a CPOE system, and a cost of $435,000 to maintain it, hospitals will still see payback within 26 months through reducing hospitalizations generated by errors, researchers said.

To learn more about the Blue plan's conclusions:
- read this AMNews article

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Case study: Duke simplifies complex dosing with CPOE add-on. Report
Unexpected mortality increase after CPOE implementation. Report
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