Patients discharged earlier from hospitals with 'meaningful use' of EHRs, study finds

Hospitals that meet the highest federal standards for implementing EHRs experience shorter lengths of patient stays than those that do not, according to recent research.

For the study, Manoj Malhotra, PhD, dean of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and Deepa Wani, PhD, an assistant professor of management science and statistics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, reviewed four years of hospital and patient data from acute-care hospitals in California.

Each hospital was flagged as one of three categories: partial adoption of EHRs, full adoption of EHRs and "meaningful assimilation" of EHRs, based on whether the facility had successfully attested to "meaningful use" criteria outlined under the Health IT for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009.

Hospitals in the "meaningful assimilation" category, meaning they had met the federal government's measure of meaningful use of EHRs, experienced shorter lengths of patient stays. In fact, hospitals in this category reported patients were discharged nearly four hours earlier than hospitals where EHRs were only partially or fully adopted, representing a 3 percent reduction in average hospital stay.

Patients with complex or multiple chronic conditions experienced an additional 0.5 percent reduction in their hospital stays, according to the study, published in the Journal of Operations Management.

"Longer hospitals stays cost more money for all involved," Dr. Malhotra said in a news release. "Results from this study indicate that meaningful assimilation of technology is likely to help free up clinicians and other valuable resources — this approach is preferable to making additional investments in facilities or hiring additional employees as more people seek hospital services."

"Any efficiencies, even small improvements, can produce significant savings when adopted in a large healthcare system," he continued.

More articles on EHRs and interoperability:
How to join Apple's health records project
Meditech adds prescription pricing tool to EHR
Carequality, CommonWell data exchange link now available nationwide

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