March 20, 2012
Electronic health records are becoming more common in hospitals and practices throughout the United States. The reason for the popularity of EHR is easy to see: electronic health records save money and improve patient safety and overall satisfaction. EHRs can improve staff productivity and the quality of work done, leading to better patient care and more streamlined practice functions.
Many hospitals and practices may shrink away from implementation of electronic health records when they see the numbers for initial installation, but the system is worth it in the long run. Incentive programs for those hospitals and providers accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients help to alleviate many of the initial costs of electronic records. Doctors should begin implementing an EHR as soon as possible because, beginning in 2015, any EP or eligible hospital not working toward implementation of electronic health records will face an adjustment in their Medicare reimbursement rate.
There are many ways for hospitals and practices to save money with electronic health records. For example, transcription and file room costs can be nearly eliminated. With a file room no longer needed, the space can be used for revenue-generating purposes. The true benefit of EHR is the improved safety it offers to patients; with medication requests sent directly to the pharmacist through the computer, errors in distribution can be reduced, and the system also helps keep track of medication conflicts and patient allergies to help prevent errors. Moreover, EHRs improve billing systems and help doctors and administrators avoid costly mistakes. With all of the benefits, it is easy to see why electronic health records are on the rise.