Electronic health record (EHR) rollouts are huge undertakings. It cost Massachusetts General Hospital $1.2 billion to shift towards Epic Systems’ EHR over the last three years. And the rollout has been complicated. They had to keep their old, homegrown systems running at the same time while they switched to their new EHR system. On top of that, they had to conduct extensive data conversions, testing and staff training.
Outpatient physician practices don’t fare much better with EHR rollouts. Outpatient EHR system implementations are estimated to cost $46,569 per physician. And one study of 49 PCP practices determined that the average 5-year return-on-investment of an EHR system was a loss of $43,743 per physician. 73% of the surveyed primary care practices demonstrated a negative ROI from EHR systems over 5 years.
The practices who did benefit financially from EHR systems were the ones that implemented changes such as increased patient volume or increased procedures performed. However, increased procedures performed will no longer be profitable under value-based care reimbursement systems.
Applications that use data from EHR systems, such as electronic referral management, hold more promise for ROI savings than EHRs themselves. An article in Physician’s Practice magazine explained how data analytics can pair data from the clinical side and the revenue side to see how practices really take care of patients.
“With this information in hand, you can really make decisions and changes to the way you deliver care. You can improve patient outcomes and decrease the cost of care, which impacts your bottom line."
Some health systems have had to go through two or three EHR rollouts if they adopted one system and then were acquired by a larger entity (like a hospital) with a different EHR system. Consultants are turning to creative strategies to help clients cope with the changes. Some position the rollout as a game:
“To encourage staffers, offer points for important factors such as knowledge, helpfulness and speed. Then put a chart presenting the results on a big monitor for everyone to review at the end of the day.”
Electronic Referral Management
Healthcare leadership knows that EHR rollouts are hectic and expensive. In comparison, implementing an electronic referral management solution like Treatspace is valuable and enjoyable.
Treatspace provides a team of experts to help PCPs build out their referral networks. A primary care practice’s preferred network of specialists are all accessible before the referral network launches. And decision support allows PCP offices to easily view all regional specialists in one place and make referral decisions based on specialists’ level of accountability.
According to Mark Kissinger, the executive director of Genesis Medical Associates, a group practice of over 40 primary care providers, “moving to Treatspace involved no worries or pain points. You can’t improve what you can’t measure.”
You’ve already switched to an EHR (or two or three EHRs). Why aren’t your referrals electronic too?