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Worried about EHR impact on efficiency? How will you measure it?

DWillcutts - 09/10/2010

People on the front lines of care tend to immediately jump to the very reasonable concern that implementation of a new EHR will destroy productivity and hurt patient relationships.  Studies have come out suggesting otherwise, however I suspect that will provide small comfort to a physician’s practice.  If you plan to move forward how will you evaluate this question?  What techniques can help?  Have you heard about “Data Envelopment Analysis”? 


The Fox Group explains DEA

"can be used to compare the performance of multiple “business units” using both quantitative and qualitative indicators – simultaneously!....

So if you’ve ever run into the old dodge “our patients are sicker, that’s why is costs more”, or “our quality is higher, and that’s why it costs more”, a DEA analysis may be for you.  It will allow you to compare your business units using both qualitative and quantitative measures, to find out who is leading the pack, who is just doing an average job, and who is lagging behind.”

Interesting promises.  Can a practice add this expense on top of all the other implementation costs?  Is this overkill? Given the high stakes can a practice afford not to make this effort?

Perhaps you are better off focusing on the upfront planning and training, and rely on the studies out there showing improvements in both efficiency and patient relationships.  A recent 22 month study showed improved physician/patient relationships with improved efficiencies. (view the study by: Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Pawtucket, Rhode Island).  There are other other studies out there beyond this.

Perhaps it is dependent on an organization’s scale. 

We’d love to hear thoughts on either side?

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