Advanced EHRs Save 10% Per Patient, Study Says
A large study of electronic health records systems, which includes automation of ancillary services such as clinical data repository, pharmacy, and laboratories, shows that they save money for third-party payers and patients, but not necessarily for hospitals.
A sweeping examination of more than 5 million inpatient records at 550 hospitals during 2009 identified savings averaging 9.6% per patient – or $731 – from the 19% of hospitals that used advanced electronic health records when compared with hospitals that did not.
The findings from researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston were published in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Managed Care. Abby Swanson Kazley, an associate professor at MUSC's college of Health Professions, and a lead author of the study, spoke with HealthLeaders Media Tuesday.
HLM: Were you surprised by these findings?
ASK: I was surprised it was so high. Yes. We had done a similar study in the pediatric population and found there was not cost savings. So we were surprised it was so different in the adult population.
HLM: What was your base measure for cost per patient?
ASK: We looked at the mean cost per patient admission at hospitals—the mean overall total costs for patients with various conditions. The mean overall cost per admission for hospitals without EHRs was $10,790 and with advanced EHRs it was $10,203.
HLM: How did you define "advanced EHR?"
ASK: We wanted to pick a level that would be most consistent with the first requirements of Meaningful Use. It had to have automation of the ancillary services like the clinical data repository, pharmacy, laboratory, and radiology information systems, plus automation of nursing work flow with electronic nursing documentation, medication administration records, and also (Computerized Provider Order Entry).