Research finds EMR benefits, savings unclear

Don't rush off to spend all that money you expect to save on EMRs or electronic health records just yet. The jury is still out on whether they'll significantly reduce costs or improve care. This is according to a new paper in Health Affairs that argues that a literature review of studies on EHRs show that the technology can lead to increased billing, make doctors less productive and does not change provider-to-patient ratios. "Absent other fundamental interventions that alter medical practice, it is unlikely that the U.S. health care bill will decline as a result of the EHR alone," writes Jaan Sidorov, MD, an associate in the department of general internal medicine at Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville, PA. The paper examined EHRs in ambulatory care. However, the study's author says the research could also apply to hospitals and other inpatient settings.

Sidorov believes that installation and maintenance expenses or EHRs will be passed to the consumer through increased billings. Without improvements in care quality or efficiency, "costs are likely to be accelerated," he writes. He also writes that the literature on potential medical error reduction is unclear.

For more on the paper:
- review this article from HealthcareITNews