Financially struggling hospitals regret EHR replacements

If there was one expenditure executives at hospitals with shaky bottom lines regret making, it was the replacement of their electronic health records (EHR) system.

That's the conclusion of Black Book Market Research, which surveyed more than 3,300 hospital executives and IT employees who worked for organizations that took the plunge on a new EHR system.

Buyer's remorse appears to be rampant: 87 percent of those executives and IT staff at financially pressured hospitals regret spending the money on the upgrade. And 14 percent of those hospitals say that the revenue loss they have experienced since replacing their EHR systems wouldn't make up for the cost of the expenditures. 

"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," said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, in a statement. "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."

That there has been skepticism about the cost-benefit calculus of installing an EHR system is not new. A majority of physicians in a 2013 survey said that the costs of installing such a system outweigh the financial benefits, even though many concluded that it helped patient care.

Another study noted the persistent gaps in EHR adoption by hospitals, and recommended some financial assistance to those providers still struggling with the costs involved.

Yet the EHR replacements studied by Black Book has also had an apparent impact on the quality of care that organizations provide. Sixty-two percent of non-managerial IT staff said there was a negative impact on the quality of care being delivered that was directly attributable to the EHR system replacement.  And 90 percent of the nurses surveyed said the system eroded their ability to provide care at the same level of effectiveness.

To learn more:
- read the Black Book statement