The Role of EHRs towards Physician Productivity and Medical Billing

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) definitely have an impact on physician productivity; however, little research has been carried out in this field compared to the other sectors such as the manufacturing sector where IT implementation has proven to be a successful booster of productivity. Measuring the impact of EHRs or EMRs on physician productivity and billing presents numerous other challenges and not just lack of research on the subject. Moreover, the challenges that are faced while calculating the impact on the productivity of physicians due to EHR implementation are encountered in numerous aspects of a particular practice or a hospital environment.

The biggest challenge for calculating the impact of productivity in the field of healthcare is that productivity differs by specialty and other factors and ought to be calculated considering the parameters accordingly. For instance, an hour operating on a patient may not be the same amount of work or finances as an hour spent examining a common cold patient. Researchers have used work relative value units (WRVUs) for uniformity in measuring the productivity across some selected specialties. A study called Electronic Medical Records and Physicians Productivity: Insights from Panel Data Analysis and Design Implications further states that the measurement of productivity is also different according to the setting, type of organization providing healthcare, the carrier of the patient and such other parameters that can make it difficult to measure the accurate impact of EHRs on productivity of providers.

The fact that information makes individuals or organizations more productive is a good feature for measuring the impact of IT on healthcare in the form of EHRs. Moreover, correct information at the right time can reduce uncertainty and delays, causing an improvement in decision making. The alignment of system functionalities and the task needs can lead to increased performance and when technology is compatible with the task at hand, it leads to efficiency in performance (Goodhue 1995). This implicates that the use of EHRs which target the need for information by providers can enhance the performance of providers along with their revenue. Therefore, streamlining of various processes involved in health care delivery is a prerequisite for successful installation and utilization of EHRs which in turn would lead to increased productivity in a holistic manner.

Research has shown that productivity drops for a certain period of time immediately after EHR adoption due to the initial shock of changes in workflow processes and the steep learning curve involved in successfully implementing EHRs and qualifying for the ‘Meaningful Use’ (MU) incentives. However, the productivity slowly increases over a period of time due to streamlining of various processes involved and due to the increased familiarity with health IT and EHRs. Moreover, the incentives play a major role in boosting the productivity and revenue of providers who successfully demonstrate MU. However, while making such changes in workflow processes and in numerous other aspects of healthcare delivery the future is also going to bring immense pressure on providers due to a sudden increase in the demand for healthcare and the shortage of supply.

The various departmental processes involved in healthcare delivery play a huge role in the productivity of physicians and with EHRs and other changes in medical billing and coding procedures, and changes in health insurance policies due to the reforms. Without matching the technology with various workflow processes such as revenue cycle management, denial management, payer interaction, and successful implementation of EHRs, the revenue would drop considerably keeping in mind the penalties for non compliance of reform policies. Moreover, increased demand implicates increased revenue and workload as well, and outsourcing such departmental processes to professional that have experience in this field and are updated about the recent changes in the health care industry can bring about positive revenue changes., the largest consortium of medical billers and coders in the United States has such professionals who can not only solve the problems faced due to the increased workload in medical billing and coding but also in other processes such as revenue cycle management, denial management, successful interaction with payers and assistance in the streamlining of these processes for EHRs.