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Saturday, February 22, 2014

HealthLeadersMedia: Search for ROI in EMR Patient Safety and Life and Death of Small Systems

HealthLeadersMedia , a publication produced as an online and print journal measures and reports on opinions of CEOs in hospital and group medical practices.  HCLDRs reports on ‘hot topics’ in the economics of the health systems.

ln the January/February 2014 edition several areas emerge as newsworthy.

Front page:

In Search of EHRs ROI
Life or Death of Small Systems
Patient Safety

Table of Contents

Addressing Physician Engagement
Post-acute Care and the Care Coninuum
The Uneasy Journey
Cost- Cutting and the Revenue Cycle
Analytics and Value
Tech Takles Medication Managment

A recent HealthLeaders conference when asked what the most pressing problems were for CEOs and CFOs, responded with the challenges of investing and cutting costs. Any investment of  capital will reduce operating expense, and must show a return of investment over a planned recapture period.

According to CEOs and CFOs the biggest  waste is electronic health records. Many, but not all state, the reasons given are multiple:

In Search of ROI in EHRs

“Rip it and Replace it”.  Installation of EHRs requires a total redesign of work flow, and not just pasting an EHR on present administration. In additon to the cost of the physical EHR and software significant time, and expense are added in  training and loss of efficiency in operations. Initial EHRs are often  not designed with this in mind.

The “hunt for ROI” is a challenge, at the start. Are the measures strictly financial or should they include other metrics, such as reduction in errors, quality of care, safety issues, workplace satisfaction, measurement of multiple metrics. The shift to EHR also creates a shift in worker skills, proficiency in typing,and computer skills as well as experience in  specific EHRs.  Not only are clinical skills and scientific prowess important but familiarity with multiple  software systems.become critical for the search by HR for suitable employees. This also extends the training period for new employees which has an indirect effect on the costs of  hiring new employees.

Scott Mace writes, “The key to ROI is to start with a baseline and ‘redesign your thought system and processes to leverage the value of electronic records, or any IT solution. There are lessons to be learned from other industries. (HBR “Don’t automate, Obliterate”) describes how Ford first implemented information systems.

Life or Death of Small Systems:

Perhaps the greatest indicators for this threat has been the rapidity of mergers and acquisitions.  Scaling upward seems to imply stability and a major advantage to market share and negotiating   power for hospitals and providers when dealing with insurers.  This will only increase as the PPACA effect grows.  For small systems the risks are inherently greater making strategic changes quickly.  For some doing nothing does not seem to be a viable option, however making a big change may mean nothing in the long run.   Large systems are no  longer giving lip service to the promise of reduced overhead and making a serious commitment to efficiency by integrating their hospitals into an operating company structure as opposed to the holding company structures of the recent past.

Community health systems require a unique approach to ACO and develop a creative approach, such as offering PCP services in physician drought areas.  Some even develop a presence close to mega-hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic.  (Ridgeview, in Minnesota).

Patient Safety
A decade ago young new graduates would enter the system and would loyally follow their senior mentors, diligently follow their lead and rarely second guess. Several things have ocurred to change the relationship.  There are now fewer opportunities to buy a senior physician’s practice, so there is less impetus to follow along passively.  

In some hospitals the tables have turned on the senior guard. A new world order is now leading upstart youngsters to teach their senior attendings and physician leaders a new paradigm.  These changes improve quality while reducing waste, inappropriate care, and the opportunity for medical error and  harm.  The new doctors say their strategies avoid millions in unnecessary spending, tens of thousands here and there adding up into millions of dollars.

The ‘new’ order leads one CEO who recites a quote attributed to Ghandi,

“There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader”.

“The fact is they are ‘doing the right thing’, putting us on course to control utilization and cost. Basic routines are questioned, such as lab sets, use of IV antibiotics in lieu of effective oral antibiotics, and even such things as packaging gloves singly if only one glove is needed.”

The current edition of HealthLeaders dives into many other areas as well. It is a good reference for anyone in the hospital industry, and physician leaders as well.  Medical staff leaders will find this to be an excellent source when interfacing with the hospital “C”suite.

The insertion of the Accountable Care Organization into provider/hospital relations requires a team approach, and HealthLeadersMedia facilitates  this progress.

The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of patient care and insure wellness.

Readers can find the entire content of this edition at Health Leaders

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