A New Survey Finds Ongoing Disconnect over EHR Data’s Availability to Support Revenue Cycle

July 26, 2017
A new survey by LeanTaaS finds that, while the leaders of patient care organizations are attempting to leverage data and analytics to improve clinical and financial outcomes, they have not yet found EHR data to be effective in doing so

A new survey of CIOs is shedding light on an interesting situation in the current moment in the forward evolution of patient care organizations within the U.S. healthcare system. The survey was sponsored by LeanTaaS, a Santa Clara, California-based vendor company focused on “data-driven insights for healthcare leaders.”

As Sanjeev Agrawal, president, healthcare, and CMO, at LeanTaas, wrote recently in a LinkedIn group, “A recent survey of CHIME CIOs reveals a continued disconnect between the availability of EHR data and its ability to influence both revenue and operating margins in hospitals. The survey asked hospital CIOs five questions about their perceptions with regard to EHR [electronic health records] data and attempts to increase both operating margins and revenue at their institutions.”

Here's what the survey found: in responding to five questions about their perceptions with regard to EHR data and attempts to increase both operating margins and revenue at their institutions, survey respondents cited improving clinical outcomes as the most effective use of EHR data (24 percent) over increasing operational efficiencies (10 percent). Despite a strong push toward value-based care, the survey found that only 2 percent of respondents felt EHR data was most effective at reducing unnecessary admissions, while 6 percent perceive EHR data as being most effective at lowering readmissions. This disparity perhaps reveals the uneven state of EHR deployments today; those that deployed early have begun to appreciate the potential use of EHR data at a more macro level, while those still wrestling with their implementations remain focused on the more obvious and immediately benefits of the technology.

As Agrawal noted in his LinkedIn group post, “Interestingly, though, operational efficiencies are not far from top-of-CIO-mind when it comes to improving both operational margins and revenue. In fact, reducing labor costs (35%) and increasing OR and ER efficiency (27 percent) topped the list of initiatives that best improve operating margins, while optimizing equipment utilization (52 percent) and ORs (40 percent) were cited as most effective in increasing revenue. In addition, 45 percent of respondents said the ORs were the department most likely to improve operating margins.”

In addition, LeanTaas found that “Over half (54 percent) of survey participants said budgetary limitations were the top constraint in launching new initiatives. That’s not surprising in light of providers being asked to do more with less, but more concerning is that 33 percent of respondents cited the lack of support resources as their biggest obstacle.”

As Agrawal noted, “Overall, the survey confirms the suspicions of many: healthcare providers are moving slowly to incorporate data science into their approaches to all but the most obvious use cases. True, the complexity, effort, and expense of EHR implementation are to blame for a lot of the caution, but looking beyond improving clinical outcomes should accelerate--not slow--the use of EHR data for other purposes. Using this data to improve operational efficiencies while continuing to refine its use for improving clinical outcomes serves both ends: More efficient use of assets increases operating margins and revenue for hospitals AND contributes to better clinical outcomes for patients.”