A new study conducted by the Trump Administration suggests electronic health records are currently failing at reducing the cost of billing for medical facilities, especially for independent practices.
“Small physicians’ groups and solo providers could not afford to purchase and maintain electronic medical records and comply with government reporting requirements,” the White House report stated. “As a result, hospital mergers are booming, leading to horizontal integration, and large hospitals are buying up physicians’ practices and outpatient service providers to form large, vertically integrated health care networks.”
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that billing costs consumed significant chunks of revenue even at a large academic center with a fully implemented EHR system. They represented about 14.5 percent of costs of primary care visits and 13.4 percent of costs for ambulatory surgical procedures. “These findings suggest that significant investments in certified health information technology have not reduced high billing costs in the United States,” the authors state in the report.
Independent physicians have also commented on the burdens of the EHR system. Three out of four physicians believe electronic health records (EHRs) increase practice costs, outweighing any efficiency savings, and seven out of 10 think EHRs reduce their productivity, according to a Deloitte’s recent 2016 Survey of U.S. Physicians.
The results of the survey also indicate physician satisfaction with EHRs varies by practice characteristics. About 70 percent of employed physicians are more likely to think that EHRs support the exchange of clinical information and help improve clinical outcomes compared to 50 percent of independent physicians. The results also revealed 72 percent of independent physicians are more likely to think that EHRs reduce productivity compared to 57 percent of employed physicians. Additionally, 80 percent of independent physicians think that EHRs increase practice costs, compared to 63 percent of employed physicians.
The federal government has financial interests in making it easier for physicians to cope with EHR requirements, according to President Trump’s 2018 Economic Report. As part of its 2018 economic report, released Feb. 21, the White House drew a direct connection between physicians’ struggles to purchase and operate EHR systems and the increase in consolidation among hospitals.