Electronic Health Records Were Supposed to Cut Medical Costs. They Haven’t!

Despite the promise that electronic health records would cut billing costs, savings have yet to materialize, according to a major new study by researchers at Harvard Business School and Duke University.

The study, published in the February 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at five types of visits: primary care visits, ER visits resulting in a patient discharge, general medicine hospital stays, outpatient surgical procedures, and inpatient surgeries.

Findings included:

– A primary care visit necessitated 13 minutes in billing and insurance-related activities, costing $20. The time and cost ramped up to 100 minutes and $215 for an inpatient surgery.
– Just the physicians’ portion of the time and cost spent on billing amounted to 3 minutes and about $6 for a primary care visit, up to 15 minutes and $51 for surgery.
– Physicians, who cost between $3 and $8 per minute, are doing administrative tasks that ascribe costing 50 cents a minute could do better, Kaplan says.

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