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Return on investment for EHR software takes on new forms

Along the path to ROI for electronic health records systems, aspects such as further enhancing the technology -- or perhaps even swapping it out for a newer model -- come into play.

With winter coming soon, many of us are looking over our heating systems to be sure they work when we need them most. Approaching EHR software isn't all that different from an ROI perspective.

Let me explain.

When I bought my first house, the unreliable, old boiler at the heart of the heating system needed to come out. We replaced it with an energy-efficient model -- a decision made easier by the local gas company paying for most of the new boiler installation through an incentive program.

After that point, we had other decisions to make about the heating system: Should we divide the system into zones to heat different floors? Install a programmable thermostat? How about putting in modern radiators?

Looking at aspects of EHR ROI

Such decisions are not all that different in healthcare these days as hospitals prepare to take the next steps with their EHR software. Many, if not all, of these systems went in due to government incentive programs under meaningful use.

It's clear from government action and overall industry mood that meaningful use as a priority is waning.

But now as we look at the early draft of stage 3, it's clear from government action and overall industry mood that meaningful use as a priority is waning.

In its place is a digital transition to efforts and technology that enhance EHR software capabilities. In SearchHealthIT's new handbook -- "Next Steps for EHR Investments: Life After Meaningful Use" -- contributor Nicole Lewis looked at the horizon for clues about the future of EHR spending and related ROI. For example, Lewis talked to a hospital system that is upgrading to new medical devices that better transmit information to EHRs.

Replacing old EHR software

Meanwhile, EHR vendor Allscripts is pushing ahead with plans to integrate its products with technology designed to guide oncology precision medicine decisions, wrote SearchHealthIT reporter Shaun Sutner in the handbook. Key to this move is Allscripts' wishes to remain competitive in the EHR software market.

Finally, SearchHealthIT columnist Reda Chouffani discussed a topic that might make some of you wince: Replacing your existing EHR with a new model. Lack of modern reporting capabilities or data clarity should be warning signs that an EHR has outlived its usefulness -- kind of like my old basement boiler.

Whether it's adding new capabilities or ripping out and replacing a system, the heat is on hospitals to get their money's worth out of future EHR investments.

Next Steps

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