Electronic Health Record (EHR) is very important technology in the management of healthcare institutions. The technology helps improves the quality of healthcare services, reduce costs, increase patients’ outcomes and promote collaboration among care providers. These cited benefits vary across hospitals depending on the model, version and type of EHR software used. Hence, the hospitals are encouraged to upgrade EHR system to increase its effectiveness. To this end, the board of Southeast Medical Center’s decision to replace its old EHR system with Epic ambulatory care EHR is a step in the right direction. According to the hospital, the new EHR system will enable clinicians to have access to one complete patients’ data and information. It shall also promote coordination among clinicians. The effect of the Epic’s EHR technology on Southeast Medical Hospital can be assessed at both providers’ and patients’ level. Key metrics that the board can use to measure the effectiveness of the technology include number of lab orders placed, number of clinical notes created, number of prescription ordered, number of responses to drug alerts, amount of claims generated and number of patient encounters. Other vital metrics number of patients seen within a given time, number of provider-patient messages and number of clinician-clinician messages. In essence, every task conducted by the use of EHR can be monitored.
Using the number of responses to drug alert metric, the mean response time can be calculated to evaluate the efficiency of the system. The most appropriate way of knowing whether a particular change is attributed to EHR or not is by conducting a scientific study, survey or audit of the clinical and administrative operations of the hospital. The process begins by selecting appropriate study design. Usually, most hospitals and healthcare organizations use surveys to measure the utilization and effects of EHR technology (Prashila, Adil & Elizabeth, 2009). The surveys are done by the use of measurement instruments developed by organizations such as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). The Southeast Medical Center can use National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) instrument to collect relevant data on pertaining to EHR tasks. Once the data is collected, it can be analysed to find out any significant differences in say the number of processed lab orders in the old and new technology.
Regression analysis can be conducted to show what percentages of variance in the outcomes are attributed to the implementation of Epic ambulatory EHR technology. The regression analysis can also be used to explore the effects of increased financial resources and staff on healthcare outcomes. The Electronic Health Records just like any other business can be evaluated using traditional return on investment methods. EHR is not only not only meant improve quality of care service but also intended to boost hospital revenues and reduce costs. The technology can reduce the time clinicians spend on administrative tasks. Hence, increase the time spent on core productive tasks such as treating patients. More patients treated means increased cash inflows. The cash flow statements can be used to calculate return on investment. However, it is difficult to differentiate cash inflows and outflows associated EHR and paper system. For this reason, ROI is not widely used to gauge EHR investment. A cost-benefit analysis is usually the most appropriate for assessing EHR investment. The cost and benefits can be also quantified in terms of time instead of money.
Prashila, D., Adil, M., & Elizabeth, B. (2009, June 1). White Paper: Measurement of the Utilization of an Installed EHR. Retrieved November 6, 2014, from http://aspe.hhs.gov/sp/reports/2009/ehrutil/index.shtml