One of the most talked about concerns with implementing an electronic health record (EHR) is the financial impact that it can have on your practice. Today’s medical offices are struggling with declining reimbursement along with fewer patient visits due to an increase in self pay patients, high co-pays and high deductibles. Effective use of an EHR offers medical practices a number of positive financial benefits.
Here are four tips to improve the Return on Investment (ROI) from your EHR.
Tip 1: Use Clinical Decision Support Alerts
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) included clinical decision support (CDS) as one of the requirements in the CMS EHR Incentive Program. While that may be the reason you choose to implement one CDS rule in your office, the benefits of implementing more rules are significant.
With Clinical Decision Support alerts, patient care is monitored to ensure that the patient is receiving the appropriate level of routine clinical care, as well as proper disease management and preventative care (such as immunizations). When a safety issue (such as a drug to disease interaction) or a gap in care is identified for a patient, an alert allows easy access to the complete list of recommendations for the patient.
From these alerts, you can perform additional screening or testing, or provide appropriate immunizations and increase the billable charges in your office. Check your EHR settings to ensure you are using clinical decision alert rules that will make an impact on your practice.
Tip 2: Manage Chronic Disease Patients
An EHR offers the ability to pull information on all your patients in ways you could never do with paper. Using the reporting function in your EHR, you can generate lists of patients that will allow you call them in for appointments.
For example, every quarter pull a list of diabetes patients who are due or past due to be seen and reach out to them to schedule appointments. Or when a new treatment option or test is available, generate lists of patients who will allow you to call them to schedule appointments. Just two additional patient visits per week (averaging $149.50 per visit) would result in over $15,000 for your office in one year.
Tip 3: Cost Reduction
One of the most immediate changes you will notice after implementing an EHR is the cost savings in your office. Managing your patients electronically will reduce or eliminate the need for some of the significant expenses in your office.
- Reduce the number of faxes. While you won’t remove your need for a fax machine entirely, being able to send patient information between offices electronically, along with faxes to the pharmacy, will save you money on fax paper, ink and possibly fax line expenses.
- Less phone calls. Your staff won’t spend as much time on the phone with the pharmacy or other practices since prescriptions and messages can be sent from the EHR.
- Paper chart savings. There are three significant savings you will see when you no longer need paper charts. First, your paper expenses decrease since you no longer need as much paper and chart folders. Second, the time savings of creating and managing charts is eliminated. Third, without needing to store charts in the office, you can save storage space. Many offices turn the existing chart space into an exam room or even a new waiting room. Plus, if you use offsite storage for your charts, you may be able to eliminate the storage fees along with the cost to move charts between offices.
- Cut transcription costs. If you use a transcription service, by entering the information yourself using the EHR or dictation software, you can significantly reduce your transcription expenses.
- Malpractice insurance discounts. Many malpractice carriers offer discounts to providers using an EHR. Call your carrier to find out more.
Tip 4: Government Incentives
There are many programs that offer incentives or penalties, related to the usage of electronic systems. The most widely discussed program right now is the CMS EHR Incentive program. If you are using an EHR, be sure you register and attest.
Under the Medicaid Incentive program, the first year you participate you can collect simply for purchasing an EHR solution. In subsequent years, you will need to use it in a meaningful way as defined by CMS. The incentive is significant, $21,250 your first year of participation and $8,500 each year thereafter for five (5) years.
Under the Medicare program, you will need to use your EHR in a meaningful way each year as defined by CMS. The first year you participate, you can collect $15,000 for only 90 days of Meaningful Use (if you start in 2013). Over the course of four years you can collect up to $39,000.
Starting in 2015, Medicare penalties will start for providers who have not attested to using an EHR in a meaningful way by October 1, 2014.
There are a number of ways using an EHR can improve the financial health of your practice. In this article, we discussed only four of the ways our clients have found using Care360 has benefited them. If you have more tips, we would love to hear them. Send them to Info@Care360.com and we will share the best tips in a future article.
If you would like to learn more about how Care360 can help in your practice, or are interested in having a complimentary financial value assessment about how Care360 EHR with Data Exchange can benefit your organization, call us at 888-835-3409 or visit Care360.com.