KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study: EHRs Cut Some Costs, But May Not Show Savings Everywhere

The researchers find that adoption of electronic health records cut costs for some Massachusetts community doctors but may not reduce overall inpatient hospital costs.

Kaiser Health News: Electronic Health Records Help Cut Costs For Mass. Community Docs: Study
The adoption of electronic health records by community doctors helped drive down health costs, a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported. Previous studies, many dealing with academic teaching hospitals, have yielded mixed results about the effects electronic health records (EHRs) have had and have drawn concerns over the adoption of health information technology. Federal officials are encouraging the implementation of such systems, arguing that it will help curb the rise in health spending by eliminating duplication of services and medical errors (Tran, 7/15).

Medpage Today: EHRs Have Mixed Effect On Health Costs
Using electronic health records (EHRs) saved a little more than 3 percent in ambulatory health costs 18 months after adoption but didn't reduce overall inpatient costs, a large comparative study of EHR use found. With that rate of savings, it would take 7 years to recoup the projected 5-year adoption costs for an EHR, according to the study, which was published in July 16 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (Pittman, 7/15).

In the meantime, medical practices and officials in Colorado and California scramble to get federal incentive payments for adopting electronic health records --

Kaiser Health News: Why Your Doctor May Still Have Paper Records
Uncle Sam wants your doctor go to digital. And the federal government is backing up that goal by offering money to practices if they start using digital records systems. Nearly half of all physicians in America still rely on paper records for most patient care, and time is running out to take advantage of the government incentive payments. So practices like Colorado Springs Internal Medicine are scrambling to get with the program (Whitney, 7/15).

California Healthline: Grants Set For Rural Information Exchange
University of California-Davis officials are ramping up efforts to sign up rural health centers in California for a federally funded program that provides subsidies for providers to adopt electronic information exchanges. Health information exchanges are a central tenet of the Affordable Care Act. Getting a functional and smooth-running network up to speed in rural areas can be especially difficult, according to health experts. Now, through a partnership between HHS and California Health eQuality (CHeQ), part of UC Davis' Institute for Population Health Improvement, remote parts of the state can be connected by the Rural Health Information Exchange Incentive Program (Hart, 7/15).

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