Many practices are struggling with the costs of implementing and adopting EHRs. But some revenue boosting opportunities may be in the pipeline.
Proponents of EHRs say the transition from paper to electronic records will improve efficiency and patient care. But for physicians who are struggling to adopt and adapt to EHRs, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"There's a lot of frustration, a lot of loss of income, a lot of patient dissatisfaction," dermatologist Steven Shapiro recently told Physicians Practice, noting that his practice’s EHR has decreased efficiency and as a result, led to increased patient wait times, longer patient visits, and fewer total patient visits per day.
Shapiro is not alone in his frustration. Twenty-four percent of respondents to the Physicians Practice2012 Technology Survey, Sponsored by AT&T, said EHR adoption and implementation is the most pressing IT problem at their practices; while 16 percent pointed to costs to implement and use technology as the biggest issue. In addition, 53 percent of respondents said they have not yet seen a return on their investment.
For those physicians struggling to deal with the costs of implementing an EHR, there’s some good news. More immediate revenue increases as a result of implementing an EHR may be in the pipeline for physicians - beyond the federal incentives for “meaningfully using” one.
EHR vendor Hello Health, for instance, is exploring the possibility of enabling its users to use its EHR to improve efficiency when making referrals. Practices could even receive a monetary incentive when they use the EHR feature.
The vendor hopes to allow physicians to view a list of referral specialists, as well as a highlighted list of the specialists that are “in network” for a patient’s insurance plan. Physicians could then use the EHR to send a referral to a specialist with the patient’s relevant health information included, Matt Beer, director of implementation at Hello Health, told Physicians Practice.
In addition, specialists would pay a fee to participate in the referral system, which would then be shared with the referring physician.
“We’re showing really strong numbers for what we can bring to the primary-care physician over a course of a year,” said Beer, estimating it could amount to $35,000 to $50,000.
Similarly, EHRs could improve efficiencies when practices receive third-party medical record requests from life insurance companies, health carriers, and disability plans. Again, physicians could receive a monetary incentive for distributing these records.
Hello Health recently partnered up with medical record request platform 5 O’clock Records so that physicians can easily transmit the patient’s record to a third party that requests it. Physicians will also receive a fee from the third-party as a result of transmitting the request.
Beer estimated physicians could increase top line revenue by $12,000 to $15,000 annually as a result of utilizing the third-party record request feature.
“The doctor with a click of a button will be able to send that entire record to that life insurance company in seconds, and that’s normally been a process which has taken, sometimes, weeks,” he said.
What do you think of these possible revenue boosters for EHRs? Could they benefit your practice?