Study: Physician EHR-Users Not Seeing Return On Investment

Marla Durben Hirsch | FierceEMR | March 7, 2013

Although more physicians than ever are implementing electronic health records, many are not reaping a positive return on the investment, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

The researchers, from the University of Michigan and elsewhere, reviewed 49 physician practices in a large EHR pilot in Massachusetts--the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative. The average physician lost nearly $44,000 over five years of implementing an EHR. Just over one-fourth (27 percent) of practices achieved a five year positive return on the investment. Only an additional 14 percent would come out ahead if Meaningful Use incentive payments also were factored in, the researchers determined.

The researchers found that the biggest challenge to a positive return on investment was the fact that the practices didn't change their operations to accommodate the change in record keeping. For instance, almost half of them didn't realize savings in part because they still also were using paper records. In addition, the practices that saw a financial benefit were those that used their EHRs to increase their revenue by better code capture, fewer billing errors and treatment of more patients in a day...