Many providers have noted in various surveys and many speakers at conferences have said the federal incentives will not drive EHR adoption because there is no business case to implement EHRs.
Now is the time for health-system pioneers of EHRs to analyze their data and highlight where EHRs have contributed to increases in patient safety and quality of care and decreases in cost. Third-party entities need to validate the results. Then, the results need to be broadcast as widely as possible.
Brigham and Women's Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Boston area and Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA, have documented cost reductions as a result of electronic patient records. More studies need to be done.
In Richmond, VA, a number of hospitals are in various stages of EHR implementation. Colin Banas, MD, assistant chief medical information officer at VCU Health System, was quoted in a recent article that he believes drug alerts in the hospital's EHR system were partly responsible for a drop in cases of deep-vein thrombosis. It appears as if this has not been substantiated. VCU Health System has a lot of initiatives going on right now, so it's understandable that they may not be focusing on validating the benefits. But at some point, it would be incredibly helpful for the provider community to know that these kinds of results are achievable. Now, trying to isolate the causes is easier said than done, but if you track everything that likely contributed to that increase in patient safety and quality of care, you introduce best practices as a result of combining EHRs and other components, be they policies, standards and other IT tools.
You may have heard anecdotes from other hospitals. While the CIOs and CMIOs oversee implementations and upgrades , with the goal of meeting meaningful use criteria, there should be someone else or some other department team analyzing the data and uncovering the reasons behind quality improvement and patient safety metrics. It's not just good for the rest of the provider community, it's something the hospital board and community need to see to validate EHR initiatives going forward.
Patty Enrado blogs daily at EHRWatch.com.