MGMA e-Source, Jan. 11, 2011
EHRs a critical part of better-performers' success
By Matthew Vuletich, MGMA senior writer/editor
The economic incentives for implementing EHRs – and penalties for not doing so – established by the healthcare reform legislation should serve as sufficient motivation for many paper-based medical practices to take the electronic plunge. But if they don't, perhaps findings in MGMA’s Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups: 2010 Report Based on 2009 Data will prompt the leap.
Not only do more practices deemed "better-performers" in the report use EHRs than their peers, but their systems have greater functionality. Likewise, top-flight groups spend more on EHRs.
Higher EHR user rates
While an EHR does not guarantee improved performance and profits, the systems appear to be an integral part of the top-flight groups' operations. More than 52 percent of better-performers said their systems are fully implemented at all practice locations and for all physicians, compared with about 45 percent of other practices. Almost 33 percent of top-flight groups used EHRs to provide cost-effective care compared with 24 percent of their colleagues.
Having an EHR and using it to its full potential are two different things. Systems used by the most successful groups appear to offer many more functions than those used by other groups. Highly successful groups reported better functionality from their EHRs in 18 categories, including the ability to:
- Pull consultation reports from specialists
- Receive drug interaction warnings
- Access radiology and imaging results
You get what you pay for
The greater functionality and level of implementation enjoyed by highly successful groups comes at a higher price than what peers spend on the technology. In fact, “better-perfomers” spend about $25,000 per physician on the purchase and implementation of EHRs, which is $5,000 more than other groups. Likewise, they spend $100 a month more per physician on maintenance costs.
Interestingly, the variation in EHR implementation costs from the original estimates was identical in better-performers and other groups: 5 percent.