Where is the Value in Health IT?

What a powerful question that I think hasn’t got enough attention. Everyone seems to be so enamored with EHR thanks to the $36 billion in EHR incentive money. I seem to not be an exception to that rule as well. Although, at least I was in love with EHR well before the government started spending money on it.

While so many are distracted by the government money I think it’s worth asking the question of where the value is in healthcare IT.

Practice Management software has a ton of billing benefits. Is there a practice out there that doesn’t use some sort of practice management software? I don’t know of any.

Health Information Exchange (HIE) has a ton of value for reducing duplicate tests. Certainly we have challenges actually implementing an HIE, but the value in reducing healthcare costs and improving patient care seems quite clear. Having the best information about someone clearly leads to better healthcare.

Data Warehouse and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) has tremendous value. RCM is not really sexy, but after attending a conference like ANI you can see how much money is on the table if you deal with revenue integrity. I add data warehouse in this category since they’re often very closely tied together.

Since this is an EHR site, where then does EHR fit into all this? What are the really transparent benefit of using an EHR. I know there are a whole list of EHR benefits. However, I think it is a challenge for many doctors to see how all of those benefits add up. EHR adoption would be much higher if there was one big hair benefit to EHR adoption. Unfortunately, I don’t yet think there’s one EHR benefit that’s yet reached that level of impact. I hope one day it will. Not that it matters right now anyway. Most practices wouldn’t see the benefit between the EHR incentive weeds.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • My guess is that lots of very small practices still do paper billing and everything else. One I know doesn’t even have a fully working PC right now. Appointments are in paper calendars. Everything is done by hand – they don’t even have a typewriter. Yes, a single doctor practice – sharing space with a second single doctor practice.

    The doc I know of the 2 has a hospital EHR that she uses at another location. Eclipse. When setup no one really asked her what she needed, no customization ever done to help with how she handles patients, etc., minimal training. She finds it impossible to use while with her patients – slows her way down. I’ve no idea of how good an EHR it is, but the implementation is probably a classic shove it down the throats of the staff approach.

    Now in her practice, there are few lab tests. No imaging or extremely little. Lots of prescriptions though; this is one area where she and her patients would both benefit. For assorted reasons, almost no incentive money. But after lots of discussions trying to persuade her to rethink EHR, I’ve come to understand that for her, overall, there is only minimal benefit to an EHR. Certainly no financial benefit.

  • The real value in health IT is not even on the radar of most who consider themselves experts in the field. Real value is derived when information technology is implemented at the point of care in fashions that enhance, rather than interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and empowers both. Most are still living in the world of obsolete software and workflows that are actually designed to turn doctors into harried data trolls looking at computers instead of their patients. We are on the verge of a revolution where Health IT unburdens clinicians allowing them to better manage a much larger population of patients while taking them off their hamster wheels and delivering more cost-effective care.

  • I”m nowhere near being an expert yet, but with MU driving EHR development instead of need and common sense, I’m less optimistic. And I’m now hearing story after story of botched implementations (by experts, of course). The ‘data troll’ bit is dead on in far too many practices. –

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