What is the Benefit of an EMR in a Medical Practice?

Today, I have another guest post. This time it’s from Dr. Suzanne Berman MD, FAAP. Dr. Berman is also a contributor to Survivor Pediatrics. In this post, she gives insight into the real benefit of having a EMR. For example, many docs believe that a EMR will help them chart faster. But as Dr. Berman points out, that is not always true. 

The real benefit of an EMR isn’t being able to put data in/chart faster – this is great if you can do it but not everyone can point/click/type faster than they can check boxes–

…the real benefit of an EMR is getting practice-wide data quickly OUT of it.

When docs test drive EMRs, they want to see “How do I put in the vitals?  How do I issue an Rx?”  As far as getting data out, they want to see patient-specific, single-patient data: “Show me the kid’s growth chart.”  “Show me their pattern of no-shows.”

But the real ROI is learning how to get data OUT – report writing and so on.  Most docs never learn this, or expect the administrator to do it all.

I’ve posted on SOAPM before about how we found $3K/month in lost revenue in labs we weren’t billing for by cross-checking the number of, say, strep tests documented in the chart vs 87880’s billed for – at a cost of $100/month.   Is $3K/month a huge cash cow? Nope, but it’s something we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

We get another perhaps $1000/month for running reminders on missed E&M, 99050, etc.  and we already run a pretty tight ship.  Other practices have found similar results from cross-checking vaccines, etc.

By reporting on how many different days I saw kids at our local hospital (place of service 21 or 22) I can give our practice’s accountant a nice list of work-related mileage from our office to the hospital.  This is maybe $500/yr in tax savings for me and my husband.  Is this ginormous? Nope, but since the report is already there and it takes 2 minutes to run and print, $500 earned in 2 minutes work is pretty good.

Having the computer do the various annual reports that are required of the various programs we participate in saves my nurse administrator time.  How many VFC vaccines from a certain lot did we give between date A and date B to self-pay vs. Medicaid patients? How many H1N1 vaccines did we give during a period?  Point, click, print, fax, move on.  No hand tabulating.  No adding up long columns of numbers by hand.

There’s a new Framitz machine that’s now CLIA-waived!  It’s on sale, $5000, and the cost per test is $3.  Insurance reimbursement is $8.   Is it worth it? Depends on how many Framitz tests we sent out last year — and with a couple clicks, I can see what the ROI on a new Framitz machine would be.

I don’ t expect everyone to be the data mining geek that I am – but I posit that you will never reap the rewards of an EMR if you don’t know how to get practice-wide data intelligently OUT of it.

And that’s the trouble with spending a lot of time on scanning old data into the EMR – it’s clunky and time consuming, and you have to do it, but the data you’re putting in can’t be extracted in any meaningful way (unless you are doing some really awesome indexing) to do the cool things I’m talking about.

 

Comments

  1. EMR could be of great help and support to both doctors as well as patients. The time saved helps doctors to add to the productivity where as patients are benefited with improved quality of service.

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