Primary Docs See Hope For Stronger Financials With EMR

Apparently, some primary care physicians are optimistic about the financial impact EMRs will have on their practice, according to a new survey.

Vendor Hello Health recently completed a survey of 100 practicing physicians without EMRs to discuss their attitudes about key business issues.  Not surprisingly, 37 percent of respondents said EMR adoption was their number one challenge at present; an equal percentage said that financial issues were their biggest worry.

Here’s what, to me, is the most interesting part of the study.  Among doctors for whom practice financial health was a primary concern, 51 percent felt that implementing an EMR would help solve their problems.

Their theory was that EMRs would help by improving coding and documentation to substantiate claims, as well as improving efficiencies and reducing costs.

Of doctors who didn’t think EMRs would help their financial situation, 46 percent felt that the systems would lead higher costs and overhead, and 15 percent felt productivity would decrease.

Now, I’m going to go all cynical on y’all.

I was pretty surprised to read that some doctors feel EMRs will actually improve their financial situation. Sure, improving coding and documentation itself is certainly a worthy financial goal.  The thing is, that’s not exactly what EMRs are designed to deliver.

As for improved efficiencies and reduced costs, well, I don’t find that very credible at all.  Not that some practices don’t achieve this goal,  but if the respondents  had anything near-term in mind they’re likely to be quite disappointed.

Realistically, if I wanted to invest in technology that improved my coding, I’d go with a computer-assisted coding or souped-up billing system. And I’d begin gunning my ICD-10 engines right away. Getting psyched about my pending EMR is nice, but probably setting oneself up for a letdown.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

5 Comments

  • Anne,
    You have to remember that Hello Health has a unique model for helping to solve a doctor’s revenue issues and it does rely on the EHR. In fact, it focuses on using the EHR to create ancillary revenue streams that aren’t tied to churning through more patients to drive more revenue. This likely is the difference in why the physicians surveyed were optimistic that the Hello Health EHR would help their financial situation.

  • Of course “improv(ing) their financial situation” is not “what EMRs are designed to deliver”. If it were, the gov’t wouldn’t be forcing it down physician’s throats. But now that physicians are using it, and discovering they can CAPTURE more documentation with it to bill at a higher level, the gov’t is screaming “foul”. A recent report stated that a substantial increase in the billing level of claims have occurred since usage of EMRs have become more common. It insinuated that more FRAUD is being committed, believing that doctors are documenting things that were not actually done. To the contrary, doctors have been underdocumenting (underbilling) prior to EMRs. Now that we have a way to CAPTURE what we HAVE done, they call us criminals! Do you wonder why so many doctors are leaving medicine? Thanks for letting me rant.

  • Mary,
    I’ve heard a number of doctors say similar things. It’s ironic that the EHR that was suppose to improve Medicare and lower costs very likely could increase costs because EHR helps to resolve the chronic undercoding that existed before EHR.

    Rants are always welcome.

  • Another factor contributing to improved financials is the increased efficiently that a good EHR brings you. This can translate to the ability to see more patients during regular patient hours, or to reassign staff to revenue-producing positions, such as insurance follow-up or marketing, for example. Of course, this is only possible with an EHR that actually does increase efficiency, which is not the norm. This seems to be one of the biggest barriers to entry that I have come across in my experience

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