Buyers' remorse tied to EHR switch for financially strapped hospitals, Black Book finds

Shrinking patient volumes, layoffs added to woes even as hospitals launched new technology
By Bernie Monegain
10:34 AM
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Eighty-seven percent of financially struggling hospitals now regret changing their EHR systems, according to a new Black Book survey.

Four years after what Black Book calls the "replacement frenzy," a recent survey from the market research firm indicates that 87 percent of financially struggling hospitals now regret changing their EHR systems.

Among the difficulties the survey highlighted were higher than expected costs, layoffs, declining inpatient revenues, disenfranchised clinicians and doubts over the benefits of switching systems.

The survey, which polled 1,204 hospital executives and 2,133 IT staff users, found that 14 percent of all hospitals that replaced their original EHR since 2011 were losing inpatient revenue at a pace that wouldn't support the total cost of their replacement EHR.

"It was a risky decision as hospitals were facing the fact that they would not be back to their pre-EHR implementation patient volumes, inpatient or ambulatory, for at least another five years," said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, in a statement.

[Also: 'Dissatisfaction' leading to EHR replacement trend]

"No other industry spends so much per unit of IT on the part of the business that is shrinking the fastest and holds little growth as did inpatient revenues," he said.

Other key findings Black Book gleaned from its survey:

  • 62 percent of non-managerial IT staff says was a significantly negative impact on healthcare delivery directly attributable to the EHR replacement initiative;
  • 90 percent of nurses indicated the EHR process changes diminished their ability to deliver hands-on care at the same effectiveness, yet only 5 percent of hospital leaders indicated EHR replacement had impacted care in a negative way.

"In our experience polling, most executives will not admit they were oversold or that their IT decisions had adverse bearing on patient care," Brown noted.

Black Book also found that hospital EHR replacements cost jobs, and levels of interoperability decreased. Also, EHR sales people exaggerated the automatic buy-in of physicians and other clinicians, according to Black Book findings.