Capitalizing on an EMR
One of the most frequently cited reasons for the underutilization of clinical IT by physician groups is that of mismatched economics. Spend the money, the thinking goes, and watch the benefits accrue to someone else. Several speakers at this year's TEPR conference turned that notion on its head. Representing a range of practice sizes from the tiny to the huge, these speakers detailed how their groups had trimmed expenses, enhanced revenues, and expanded productivity by judicious use of clinical IT and other technological tools.
The Medical Clinic of North Texas, for one, boosted average revenue per encounter some 7%, from $115 to $123, according to Steve Neorr, chief operating officer. The increase stemmed from a combination of more accurate charge capture and participation in pay-for-performance initiatives. Although this 100-plus physician group of internists and family physicians had deployed an EMR in 2001, it wasn't until they hired an outside firm to consolidate and analyze their data measures several years later that they began to see the real return on the technology. The group receives "patient recommendation reports" from its vendor, CINA, on a daily basis. The reports highlight, for example, which patients are overdue for an appointment, or which patients are overdue for a certain test related to their diabetes. In essence, by practicing better medicine, the group has been rewarded economically.
On the expense reduction side, other practices have put technology to work replacing traditional medical transcription services with voice recognition. The Lifetime Health Medical Group, a 150-physician group, had seen its transcription bills hit $1.25 million annually. Since deploying voice recognition, and enabling physicians to create their own notes, the group has seen its transcription expenses go down to about $200,000 annually. "Voice recognition is faster than typing, and helps transition to using documentation templates," noted Douglas Golding, MD, medical director. The voice recognition technology helped the practice overcome some of the flaws of an EMR, namely its ability to streamline capture of the patient history and physical. Such critical pieces of the chart, Golding said, do not lend themselves to documentation templates, as they contain too much unique detail for a pull-down menu to accommodate.
James Saul, MD, told me how his three-member internal medicine practice in suburban Cleveland has boosted its fiscal return by deploying EMR technology. In Saul's case, reduced transcription costs also figured into the equation. In addition, the practice is able to support a higher level of E&M coding for its services, and also reduce its support staff. The practice lost one medical assistant through attrition, finding it did not need to maintain extra labor to do chart pulls once it went to digital files.
Although these three practices improved their operations, they all took very different approaches to their deployments. Sometimes it is the smallest features—such as a lab interface that imported results directly—that provided the biggest selling points to the medical staff. As the industry compiles more and more case examples like these, we are sure to see additional medical groups take the plunge to electronic record keeping.
Gary Baldwin is technology editor of HealthLeaders magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Note: You can sign up to receive HealthLeaders Media IT, a free weekly e-newsletter that features news, commentary and trends about healthcare technology.
- CEO Exchange: Preparing for Population Health
- Advocate, NorthShore Deal Would Create 16-Hospital System
- Better HCAHPS Scores Protect Revenue
- Narrow Networks Cut Costs, Not Quality, Economists Say
- 3 Strategies for Retaining Millennial Employees
- Power of price: In South FL and the nation, healthcare costs often are shrouded in secrecy
- Two NY hospitals to offer free hip and knee replacement surgeries for qualifying patients in December
- Hospital mergers may lead to higher prices
- Healthcare data of 1 million NJ patients compromised since 2009
- CEO Exchange: Pressure is On to Partner, Drive Quality