HIMSS survey shows EHRs bring performance benefits

HIMSS survey shows EHRs bring performance benefits

Electronic health records have become a necessary tool for providers as they strive to adhere to meaningful use standards and improve patient care quality. However, many health professionals who have yet to invest in an EHR system are hesitant due to fear of productivity loss and low return on investment. A recent survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society found that the majority of providers have seen care improvements and an increase in productivity since implementing EHRs.

Survey shows EHRs help industry reach its goals
The survey sought to see how EHRs align with the HIMSS STEPS Model, which measures health IT value with categories including patient engagement, savings, population management, treatment outcomes, satisfaction and electronic data. The results showed that the EHR users who participated in the survey saw benefits across all of the categories.

When comparing the positive experiences between physician and nurse EHR users, the findings highlighted that the benefits were felt more strongly by nurses. This may be because nurses use EHR systems more frequently on a daily basis than doctors do.

Of all the STEP Model categories measured, treatment outcomes showed the best results. The reason for this is that EHRs reportedly increased productivity and efficiency among staff, as there was no longer a need for duplicate testing. EHRs also enabled providers to share more information with one another. In fact, many of the respondents reported that they were pleased with how efficient EHRs were in allowing them to share health data between care settings. 

Overall, 83 percent of the EHR users said that they saw some type of quality performance benefit. One of these benefits included high return on investments, especially for hospitals. Almost 80 percent of the respondents who kept track of the savings their EHRs brought stated that they saw positive outcomes. This stemmed from ICD-10 coding accuracy and costs saved with transcriptions.

While only 42 percent of physicians said that they had implemented a population health management strategy, 60 percent saw better results with patient portal use, which is key for promoting patient engagement and better population health outcomes. Nearly half of the survey participants also reported an increase in patient education material distribution.

External factors contribute to EHR benefits 
The survey measured external factors that could have been responsible for some of the improvements EHR users reported. The results underscored the importance of having EHR goals set to reap their full benefits. Most of the health professionals who saw positive EHR outcomes also noted that executives communicated EHR metrics with them, which helped them see the EHR benefits in detail.

Ultimately, the HIMSS survey showed the benefits that EHRs have had the industry as a whole and how the continued use of these systems will drive the sector toward its goal of enhanced care quality. However, health IT developers must continue to make quality improvements for EHRs to make a difference in the constantly evolving industry in years to come.

"This survey evaluates the progress the health care industry has made in deriving value from their health IT investments" HIMSS Vice President Pat Wise explained. "The findings illustrate that although many challenges still exist, measuring the impact of the EHR on treatment and clinical areas is happening amongst health care innovators. This survey demonstrates that health IT is creating a positive shift within health care organizations, one that's deriving quality care and improved outcomes."

As EHRs continue to improve, with useful tools like ICD-10 coding features and mobile applications, the health care industry is likely to continue seeing the benefits of health IT.