The use of advanced electronic health record systems can significantly decrease hospitals’ per-patient costs, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, EHR Intelligence reports (Bresnick, EHR Intelligence, 6/27).
Details of Study
For the study, researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina used 2009 data from the National Inpatient Sample and the Health Information and Management Systems Society (Swanson Kazley et al., AJMC, 6/27). Advanced EHR system users — defined as those with health IT systems that meet meaningful use requirements — made up 18.9% of the sample data (EHR Intelligence, 6/27).
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
The NIS data included discharge information from more than 1,000 hospitals in 45 states, or 96% of the U.S. population.
The HIMSS data were used to measure hospital EHR use and included information from:
- Acute care hospitals;
- Ambulatory practices; and
- Chronic care facilities.
Costs were estimated for each hospital admission by using the “total charges reported multiplied by the hospital-specific cost-to-charge ratio for 2009” (AJMC, 6/27).
Overall, the study analyzed more than five million patient cases at 550 hospitals across the country.
The study found that health care organizations using advanced EHR systems saved about 10% per hospital admission compared with providers that did not use such systems.
Specifically, the mean cost per patient admission for hospitals without advanced EHR systems was $7,938, compared with $7,207 for hospitals with advanced EHR systems. The authors noted that this represented about $730 in savings that were attributable to advanced EHR system use.
According to the researchers, the findings suggest that “cost savings may not be realized until multiple features are included and implemented.” They added that “hospitals must anticipate that the financial savings may not exist until advanced, ‘meaningful’ use is attained.”
The authors noted, “The majority of hospitals have yet to reach the stage of implementation where cost savings are possible, since they are not using advanced EHRs” (EHR Intelligence, 6/27).