News Feature | July 1, 2014

EHRs Beyond Meaningful Use

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

EHR Beyond MU

Are you missing the EHR big picture due to too much focus on Meaningful Use?

It’s almost impossible to have a discussion about the application of EHRs without also discussing Meaningful Use (MU). The government-issued set of regulations is intended to motivate providers to adopt EHR systems and establish a foundation for an electronic health data exchange. But, as is to be expected with any prescriptive set of rules, it’s possible the regulations have done more to establish a lowest common denominator than push providers to adopt EHR in meaningful ways.

So whether you’re one of the 20 percent of hospitals that hasn’t yet adopted an EHR system, or you’re in the 80 percent and were primarily motivated by MU compliance, it’s important to take a look at what EHR means, beyond regulatory standards.

Who Offers Them

Health IT Outcomes conducted a survey of over 150 providers, and found the most popular platforms with hospitals, IDNs, and group practices were MEDITECH (22.1 percent), McKesson (17 percent), Epic (16.2 percent), Cerner (15.4 percent), and Siemens (12.3 percent). Ambulatory EHR systems showed more variation, with Allscripts leading at 18.2 percent, followed by Epic and eClinicalWorks.

Strengths And Weaknesses

EHR adoption presents numerous challenges. The survey revealed 30.4 percent of respondents cited a lack of interoperability/integration as a major pain point, and another 28.6 percent struggled with clinical workflow disruptions and doctors wasting time entering data.

Among EHR’s strengths, according to the survey, were satisfaction with the quick and simultaneous data/record access EHR systems provided (28.6 percent), and the enhancement of billing functionality and accuracy (16.1 percent).

So what changes would current EHR users most want to make? The vast majority want more interoperable, unified standards and an interface that requires fewer clicks and less physician entry.

The Future

Earlier this month, UC Berkley’s DataScience team took a look at data trends in healthcare to put together this infographic on adoption, the difference between EMR and EHRs, and what the future of the industry looks like.

The study highlighted multiple points that may be overlooked over because of a focus on MU.

  • Clinical Results: The study showed an improvement of 29 fewer ED visits per 1,000 patients annually based on a study of patients with diabetes mellitus by Kaiser Permanente; and an additional drop by 13 annual hospitalizations per 1,000 in that same study group.
  • International Factors: The cost of Canadian care redundancies dropped by $560,000 U.S.
  • Growth Beyond Deadlines: It’s estimated that by 2019, 76 percent of smaller practice PCPs, 90 percent of larger practice PCPs, and 78 percent of specialty care physicians will have adopted a basic EHR system.
  • Industry Impact: Vinod Khosla, venture capitalist is quoted as believing that “in the next 10 years, data science and software will do more for medicine than all of the biological sciences together.”

Going Deeper

If you’re interested in up-to-date insight on implementing an EHR system, you might like to review our white paper via Greenway Health titled, How To Implement An EHR.