Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Canadian doctors save billions by using EHRs

In part because of federal incentive funds, many hospitals have been adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems in recent years. But are those investments paying off? 

money-laptopGroups have been debating the effect of EHRs on the costs and quality of healthcare, and some argue that the EHR incentive program is misguided. For example, last year four Republican members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking the agency to suspend the incentive program.

They argued that the program wasn’t pushing the kinds of technology that would create real improvements and cost savings, and instead the feds were using lax requirements in order to pad participation rates.

While there’s no sign HHS intends to put EHR incentives on hold, the Congressmen’s argument was backed up by a few studies and experts’ opinions on the push for health IT adoption.

A 2005 study conducted by RAND Corp. claimed quick adoption of health IT could save the healthcare system more than $81 billion a year. Since then, a lot of money has been paid by providers, federal agencies and other organizations on healthcare technology. However, a follow-up study released earlier this year found that those savings still remain elusive.

New study finds EHR savings

Other research has shown the benefits of EHRs, including a recent study of Canadian healthcare providers conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Based on recent research and surveys, cost data, and interviews with organizations, researchers estimate that between 2006 and 2012, EHRs helped providers saved:

  • Roughly 800 million Canadian dollars through greater administrative efficiency, and
  • More than 500 million Canadian dollars by avoiding duplicate lab tests, preventing adverse drug event and making other improvements in care delivery.

In addition to those cost savings, quality of care from providers using EHRs has also improved over that time period. The benefits cited include improvements in preventive care services and a better coordination of care among providers.

Those benefits were seen by a majority of doctors that use EHRs. For example, among the physicians surveyed:

  • 97% said they have ordered fewer unnecessary tests
  • 96% said they are better able to coordinate care, and
  • 94% said they are getting test results back faster.

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