EHRs Do Not Reduce Testing and Spending…Yeah But

by Larry Emmott on March 31, 2012

in General,Health Care Politics,Paperless

From Medscape (registration required)

But that assertion is not necessarily proving to be true. Doctors who use EHRs may actually order more diagnostic testing, and therefore make health care even more expensive,…The study “should prompt us perhaps to look elsewhere for answers to the cost crisis plaguing the U.S. health care system,”

via EHRs Do Not Deter Testing, Spending.

This article hits two of my hot buttons, Electronic (Paperless) Records and Nationalized Medicine

The article’s main argument is that EHRs seem to generate more tests not less as was surmised. This fails to lower costs as had been hoped. OK I can accept that however in my opinion the significant savings from EHR does not or will not come from reduced tests. It will come from the huge savings in time and materials we now spend on paper records. In a typical dental office we spend $60,000 to $90,000 per year on our paper records.

That is pulling charts, replacing charts, looking for lost charts, typing charts and labels, paper and film costs and the cost of storage among many other costs we rarely see as we have buried them in the general cost of doing business.

Plus there will be huge savings in patient time and hassle as we no longer need to fill out endless redundant paperwork when seeking health care. I once had to fill out the exact same registration and medical history form three times in the same hospital as I went from admission to x-ray to surgery. Three time, the same day, in the same building!

As to “looking elsewhere” for savings in health care costs, there are plenty of savings to be had from well implemented EHR. I fear the alternative will be rationing care. Of course it won’t be labeled as rationing but when panels decide who gets what care and when that is de facto rationing.

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