Study: EHR implementations increase clinic labor costs for 6 months

After an EHR implementation, it takes an average of six months for some healthcare organizations to return to normal efficiency, according to a study published Sept. 19 in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

For the study, a team of researchers examined how EHR implementations affected orthopedic surgeons in an outpatient setting using advanced cost accounting methods. Specifically, the researchers timed 143 patient visits before the clinics' systemwide EHR implementations and again two, six and 24 months after the implementation.

Here are five study findings:

1. Total labor costs per patient visit increased significantly two months after the EHR implementation (from $36.88 to $46.04), due to surgeons spending more time per patient, as well as certified medical assistants spending more time assessing patients.

2. Notably, providers were spending more than twice as long documenting patient encounters two months after the EHR implementation (7.6 minutes compared with 3.3 minutes).

3. Six months after the EHR implementation, total labor costs were similar to those before implementation (from $36.88 to $38.75).

4. Labor costs continued to stay relatively unchanged two years after the implementation (from $36.88 to $37.73).

5. After the initial learning period following an EHR implementation, providers spent more time documenting encounters (8.43 minutes compared with 3.28 minutes) and less time interacting with patients (10.03 minutes compared with 14.65 minutes).

To download the complete study, click here.

More articles on EHRs:

DrChrono allows developers to build apps on EHR with updated API
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CareCloud uses Google's healthcare APIs to improve EHR data sharing

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