CHIME: IT leaders now focused on gaining ROI from EHRs

The majority of hospitals and health systems have implemented EHRs. While adoption challenges still remain, the majority of CIOs and IT leaders are focusing their attention on new challenges, namely how to realize value from the initial investment.

On behalf of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Impact Advisors conducted an online survey of CHIME members between May 27 and July 24 to collect information on IT optimization.

The majority of respondents' top IT priority for their organizations was to get more value out of their EHR investment, with 71 percent either agreeing or strongly agreeing with that statement.

Additionally, the overwhelmingly top optimization priorities for clinical outcomes within the EHR were improving the quality of care (83.8 percent) and improving caregiver productivity (59.5 percent).

The top two revenue cycle optimization priorities were streamlining key patient access functions (58.3 percent) and increasing cash collections (47.2 percent).

The majority of respondents — more than 80 percent — indicated projects to address their highest priority optimization efforts are already underway, with 36.8 percent saying they are working on identifying high priority problem areas and actively working on improvements and 44.7 percent saying they have already implemented process improvements and redesigned workflows for problem areas.

However, challenges persist. Respondents said the biggest challenge in boosting EHR ROI stems from too many internal and external competing priorities, with 73 percent of respondents feeling this way. Other challenges include lack of process improvement resources to augment IT redesign (40.5 percent), lack of operational focus (32.4 percent) and budget constraints (29.7 percent).

CHIME offers four key takeaways from the survey's findings.

First, there are many more improvements in clinical and revenue cycle outcomes that can be realized from EHRs, as evidenced by the number of respondents who said boosting ROI is a top IT priority.

Second, optimization is occurring, and it is occurring in different ways, depending on organizations' challenges and priorities.

CHIME underscores that realizing the value of an EHR investment is not a responsibility that solely lies with IT. Departments and organizations outside of IT also have a role to play.

Finally, CHIME says optimization challenges will likely require outside help to maximize improvement and sift through competing priorities.

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