Physician explains what an EHR can do if it's done right
EHR boosts ROI, revenue for med group
Larry Garber is a believer.
The physician and medical director for informatics at Worcester, Mass.-based Reliant Medical Group has seen electronic health records make big, real life changes both financially and clinically, and now he's set out to spread the word.
At the iHT2 Health IT Summit May 7 in Boston, Garber shared some big numbers with the audience. Like 63, the percent reduction in transcription after Reliant Medical Group — a 2011 HIMSS Ambulatory Davies Award winner — went live with its EHR.
The $24 million EHR investment was worth every penny, Garber says. The medical group has seen return on investment, big revenue boosts and a huge increase in compliance and clinical results.
When talking finances,Garber cited the $2 million annual revenue increase the medical group saw just from increasing the compliance rate for Medicare Advantage patients.
Their Epic EHR generates patient problem lists and has the ability to extract data from lab results. "We have alerts that remind us to put (lab results) in the problem list, and we have alerts that say, 'OK, so now that it's in the problem list, for billing, this is the right way to bill for those problems,'" Garber said.
This, he added, is particularly important for Medicare Advantage patients, as physicians are paid for the diagnoses for those patients and the documentation they provide. So they have a tool automatically reminding staff which items haven't been diagnosed each year on the patient that are on the problem list, and the tool will automatically complete the documentation and billing.
As a result, the medical group has seen their compliance rate for chronic kidney disease Medicare Advantage patients surge from 20 percent to 84 percent within a three year period.
Another issue Garber and his staff worked on improving by using the EHR was reducing the percentage of radiology orders requiring changes.
"The radiologists were always fuming that we were ordering the wrong test," he said. So they implemented a one-click feature that showed staff specific CT scans the radiologist agreed on. The percent of radiology tests requiring changes previously stood at nearly 12 percent before EHR go-live. "When we implemented these one clicks, we brought it down to about 4 percent," said Garber.
Despite the skepticism lately over the value of electronic health records, Garber remains devout — for good reason. "You actually can get true value out of electronic health records if you do it right," he said. "You may have heard a lot of people are changing their systems, throwing them out. 'Why in the world are we switching to electronic health records?' This is why we're switching to electronic health records, because if you do it right, you really do hit the triple aim. You really do improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare."