U.S. health systems invested more than $10 billion in electronic health record (EHR) systems between 2008 and 2013, and were projected to spend another $10 billion to $15 billion by 2016, according to Gartner and McKinsey. Despite the enormous investment, EHR challenges still exist and value remains to be gained.
To better understand these challenges, we surveyed healthcare professionals online before, during, and after HIMSS 2017. Thirty-seven percent of those polled felt that “Getting actionable insights out quickly and easily” was their greatest EHR challenge. “Connectivity to multiple EHRs,” what many would call the interoperability challenge, came in a close second at 35 percent, while a much smaller group of 17 percent checked “Getting data into the system.”
Other responses, which accounted for 11 percent, focused primarily on “Getting results,” which at a glance echoes the number-one response, but may focus less on point-of-care insights and more on overall improvements in patient outcomes or financial performance. Without further study, however, this is only speculation.
What does this informal poll tell us about the current state of EHRs? First, it’s entirely consistent with the Quest/Inovalon 2016 study, Finding a Faster Path to Value-Based Care, where 65 percent of physicians polled said they “Do not have all the healthcare information they need about their patients.”
Using patient data to improve clinical outcomes is certainly a top priority for healthcare providers, from health insurers and health systems, who are increasingly collaborating, to the clinicians at the point of care. If data that could demonstrably improve patient health remains locked inside the EHR, we would all stand to gain by enabling, if not accelerating, its “meaningful use.”
Data are also critical to the ongoing financial viability of health systems. A recent HIMSS Analytics survey commissioned by Nuance, EHR and Clinical Documentation Effectiveness, underscores this point. When asked “As you look to continuously improve the documentation of patient encounters, in which areas do you see the largest financial impact from these enhancements?,” 67 percent responded the “Ability to capture appropriate reimbursement.”
The learnings from this recent EHR challenge poll, last-year’s survey, and the HIMSS Analytics study support the need for more insights from data physicians are already tasked to capture. And that’s true whether that data helps inform a diagnosis or is used to help raise quality scores, manage risk, and/or maximize reimbursement. What’s key is where the data now are, including and especially within EHRs, and how easily clinicians can access just-in-time insights (the product of data-driven analytics) without disruption to their workflows.
Are you among the many healthcare professionals eager to see greater return from your financial, labor, and emotional investment in EHRs? Have you recently discovered a new approach that extends the value of your EHR data? If so, please share in the comments below so that others can learn from you.