How Hospitals Can Benefit From EHR Implementation: Q&A With Alan Portela, President of CliniComp

Alan Portela, president of CliniComp and professor of healthcare information technology at the University of California-Irvine, shares his insights into how electronic health record implementation can make hospitals profitable.

Q: How can hospitals benefit from implementing EHRs?

Mr. Alan Portela: There are several areas of returns on investment. The first component is organizational ROI, which means hospitals are making sure the work lives of staff members are easier. Now is the time to start providing data to them through analytics to assess trends. The minute you make their lives easier and improve efficiency, ROI comes through staff satisfaction, retention and ultimately taking care of more patients with fewer caregivers. The system has to be a user-friendly system that improves their process not delays it.

The second ROI is clinical. The more quickly a clinician can respond to adverse events, the better. Instead of reacting to an adverse events, we can proactively figure out when that event can happen. The computer system will let you know [based on conditions you put into the settings to be notified of].

Q: What are the financial implications of EHR implementation?

Mr. Portela: If you achieve the first two components of ROI, financial ROI comes by itself. When you become more efficient clinically and organizationally, profitability will come from shortening length of stay, maximizing bed capacity, minimizing law suits and so on.

Q: What can hospitals do to achieve these benefits and profits through EHR implementation?

Mr. Portela: Traditionally what happened in the last two decades [when hospitals were installing informatics systems] is that the CIO would make decisions with an IT team. Nurses and physicians were never involved, but those are the people taking care of patients in the hospital and they were never involved in the selection process [for informatics systems]. If we're going to do this moving forward, [everyone] needs to be in it together, otherwise there will be penalties [including embarrassment in front of the community and less federal reimbursements and incentives in the future] felt by everyone.

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