The use of electronic health records helped reduce short-term ambulatory health care costs
The use of electronic health records helped reduce short-term ambulatory health care costs but did not reduce overall inpatient costs, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1709804
Summary of Study Findings
The study found that providers with EHRs saved an average of $5.14 per member each month over the 18 months following implementation, for a total of 3.4% in overall savings. Ambulatory costs accounted for about $4.69 of that amount.
The researchers found that health care costs increased for both the EHR and control groups. The EHR groups' spending increased by an average of .78 absolute percentage points and the control groups' spending increased by 1.09 absolute percentage points (MedPage Today, 7/15).
The study determined that there were significant savings in outpatient radiology costs. However, it found no significant savings in:
Inpatient care costs;
Outpatient pharmacy care costs;
Laboratory care costs; or
Total cost of care ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/15).
Lead author Julia Adler-Milstein of the University of Michigan and fellow study authors wrote on Medpage today that the "failure to find a statistically significant reduction in total cost may be explained by providers not using EHRs in more advanced ways that would improve patient health status, thereby avoiding hospitalizations and other high-cost episodes"
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