EMR Benefits and Return on Investment Categories

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The sections below detail the benefits, costs, and barriers in evaluating EMR implementations. Selecting, financing, and launching an EHR system is difficult.


EMR Benefits: Informational


EMR Benefits: Security is an advantageous attribute which comes with EMR systems. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a privacy, security & meaningful use guidelines which computer systems that store patient information need to conform to imply to HIPAA privacy guidelines. [1]


EMR Benefits: Environmental positive impact through Electronic Health Records has the potential to improve the environmental footprint left by the health care industry. [2]

Quality Outcomes

EHR’s can be utilized to generate reports on quality measures in the effort to improve quality and patient satisfaction. With the ability to produce reports from EHR’s, clinicians can easily compare data to baseline data and quickly identify areas in need of improvement. Once areas in need of improvement have been identified, clinicians can compare data to manual reports and similar data to validate the reported information. Once an area of improvement has been identified it can be delivered to the performance improvement department where informatics professionals can perform gap analysis and identify methods to improve overall quality. , Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

In addition the use of EMRs in a teaching environment allows trainees access to the most up to date information. “Point-of-care education accessed via CDS allows for easy access to relevant and up-to-date medical literature from which students and residents can draw to formulate diagnosis and management plans".[3]


EMR Benefits: Financial

"Implementing an EMR system could cost a single physician approximately $163,765. As of May 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had paid more than $30 billion in financial incentives to more than 468,000 Medicare and Medicaid providers for implementing EMR systems. With a majority of Americans now having at least one if not multiple EMRs generated on their behalf, data breaches and security threats are becoming more common and are estimated by the American Action Forum (AAF) to have cost the health care industry as much as $50.6 billion since 2009." [4]

Some of the ways that EMR systems can cut healthcare costs are due to savings based on "time-consuming paper-driven and labor-intensive tasks":[5]

  • Reduced transcription costs[5]
  • Reduced chart pull, storage, and re-filing costs [5]
  • Improved and more accurate reimbursement coding with improved documentation for highly compensated codes [5]
  • Reduced medical errors through better access to patient data and error prevention alerts [5]
  • Improved patient health/quality of care through better disease management and patient education [5]

There are few comprehensive estimates of savings from Health Information Technology (HIT) at the national level. At 90 percent adoption, it is estimated that the potential HIT – enabled efficiency savings for both inpatient and outpatient care could average more than 77 billion per year.[6] [7]

Although the full extent of EMR advantages may not become apparent until further implementation and research is carried out, a clear benefit is the reduction of cost. Major administrative costs can be eliminated or reduced. Providers can do away with the costs of “chart pulls,” while substantially reducing dictation costs through the use of EMRs. Healthcare providers can also receive decision support regarding selection and costs of medications, radiographic studies, and laboratory tests.[8]

Billing Accuracy

The benefits for small to medium private practices that have implemented EMR systems integrated with the practices' billing and prescription systems, can be increased efficiency and accuracy thanks to automatic coding leading to improved profitability. "Since installing the EMR, Medicare has audited only one of my charts. I had billed out as a level four and Medicare said it should have been billed as a level five, which, in essence, said that we should have been paid more. My EMR system gave the chart a level four and I believe it was right.” "Since adopting an EMR system, my practice receipts have increased about $4,000 per month."[9]

A nuanced view is appropriate here, however; improved billing can coincide with fewer patients seen. "EHR implementation ... increased reimbursements but reduced long-term practice productivity across all specialties"[10] according to one study. This may be a net financial positive for the practice: "an EHR should greatly enhance physician effectiveness even if fewer patients are seen by the physician"[10] due to gains in billing efficiency, but this also represents an artificial reduction in the supply of services.

An EMR Cost Benefit Analysis

Samsung Medical Center (SMC) performed a cost benefit analysis (CBA) on the cost benefits of implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) system. Costs of implementing the EMR system involved both direct costs to build the system infrastructure and induced costs to make a smooth transition to the new system. Benefits of implementing the EMR system include both cost reductions and increased revenue. Five types of cost reductions, mentioned by the authors, include:

  1. Reduction of supplies for paper charts
  2. Disposal of storage facilities used for paper chart storage
  3. Reduction of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees for the paper chart management
  4. Reduction in staff for outpatient clinics
  5. Decreased supplies for medical devices

The FTE's responsible for paper management were greatly reduced from 28 FTE's (2007) to 1 FTE (2009).

This CBA was based on an eight year period post EMR implementation. SMC determined the EMR system became cost effective shortly after 6 years. The outcomes of the CBA were calculated using the following formulas:

  • The primary outcome is the Net Present Value (NPV)
    • NPV = Present Value (PV) of benefit for the eight year period - PV of cost
  • The second outcome is the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR)
    • BCR = PV of the benefit / PV of the cost
  • The third outcome is the Discounted Payback Period (DPP).
    • This is the time to reach the breakeven point.

This CBA does not include clinical benefits of the EMR implementation such as decreased medication errors, improved workflow, and reduced length of stay.[11]

Improving Patient Care

EMR Benefits: Healthcare quality

Many EMRs have alert systems that ensure physicians do not forget to request important tests. As well as the legal benefits that this provides, EMR alerts remind physicians of the "preventive care needs for patients, which helps improve quality of care and office income by reminding us to do appropriate testing and provide vaccinations" recommended for some patient conditions e.g. asthma, emphysema or diabetes. [12]

EMR Benefits: Reduction in no shows

EMR system was used to improve on automated calls made to patients to remind them of their appointment which reduced the number of no call shows and improved patient satisfaction. [12]

EMR Benefits: Medication Management

"Rational antibiotic use resulted in a lower mortality of 0.0644 % during the post-implementation period compared to 0.179 % during the pre-implementation period (p = 0.018). The comprehensive EMR system contributed to a significant reduction in antibiotic consumption and an improvement in rational antibiotic use."[13]

EMR systems have the ability to make evidence-based suggestions regarding patient care. With these suggestions, EMRs are able to use a patient’s information to identify preventative services that specific patient may need. The system is able to remind doctors that the patient is due for certain screening exams or other services which allows the doctor to discuss it with the patient and also allows the patient to decide whether or not they would like to schedule an appointment for that specific exam. This reminder has proven to benefit patient care by increasing compliance with preventative care.

EMRs also benefit patient care by assisting in long-term chronic disease prevention and management. Case management systems in EMRs allow patients to communicate with a variety of specialists, which better enables them to manage their care. This system also allows healthcare providers to keep track of patient data, such as vital signs, and allows case management nurses to quickly respond to any issues that may occur. The system benefits the patient because it allows the patient’s acute issues to be handled promptly before they become bigger issues that may lead to a hospital admission.

EMRs have the ability to eliminate up to 200,000 adverse drug events with the use of CPOE. Using reminders and alerts CPOEs are able to notify physicians about possible drug interactions that may occur when a new medication order is placed.

EMRs have a direct correlation with the quality of healthcare offered to a patient. Problems in healthcare quality fell into three categories as stipulated by the National Roundtable on Health Care Quality. These three categories are the underuse, overuse, and misuse of healthcare services. Reducing overuse and misuse of healthcare services, as noted by the Roundtable, leads to an increase in health care quality while simultaneously lowering costs. In addition, reducing the underuse of healthcare services increases quality, but may in turn increase costs. “Computerized physician order [CPOE] entry may affect all three categories of health care quality problems, as well as inefficiencies in the health care system.” [14]


EMR Benefits: Research

Researchers can use EHRs to retrieve up-to-date data from various sources around the country to advance their studies. EHRs can compute a report to show researchers certain trends in the population or common side effects of medications. [15]

Health Information Exchange (HIE)

EMR Benefits: HIE

Personal Health Records

EMR Benefits: PHR

Patient Participation

Patients can use personal health record (PHR) to keep track of information from doctor visits, record health-related information, and link to health-related resources. PHR, is an electronic application used by patients to maintain and manage their own health information. Connected PHRs are linked to a specific health care organization's EMR system that can increase patient and family participation in their own care. [16]

Electronic Dental Records

EMR Benefits: EDR


EMR Benefits: Telehealth


EMR Benefits: E-Prescribing

E-Prescribing has many benefits, some of them include: [17]

  • reduce illegibility [18]
  • providing warning and alert systems, which reduce medication errors [18]
  • access to patient's medical history [18]
  • reduces or eliminates phone calls and call-backs to pharmacies [18]
  • eliminates faxes to pharmacies [18]
  • streamlines the refill and authorization processess [18]
  • increases patient compliance [18]

Mobile EMRs

EMR Benefits: mHealth


EMR Benefits: Physicians

Physicians Benefit

EMRs can greatly improve communication between physicians by allowing each full access to the patient’s medical record and by making it easier for physicians to follow up with patients. The electronic record provides up to the minute information on the patient allowing more efficient collaboration between disciplines. EMRs allow multiple providers to simultaneously access a patient’s record from any authorized computer.[19]


EMR Benefits: Nurses

Nurses use the EMR to identify newly admitted patients, track their location, and document admission information. The nursing SWAT team harnessed the power of EMR technology, and successfully re-organized nursing workflow to expedite the admission process, while maintaining patient and family centered care.[20]

Versatile capabilities of EHRs in healthcare settings

There are many studies showed that EHRs are capable to integrate with various standards systems such as billing codes, clinical notes, ICD diagnose codes, and medications, which essentially enhances effectiveness and efficiency of care and results in superior phenotyping performance compared with paper-based medical record systems. [21].

Improvement of Spontaneous Reporting System for drug post-marketing safety surveillance

In the healthcare settings, Spontaneous Reporting Systems (SRSs) are critical systems for monitoring drug post-marking safety and adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Although widespread utilization of SRSs has played a fundamental role in drug safety monitoring, there are certain limitations that hinder their efficacy and accuracy in practices. For example, multiple sources of data are needed for confirmation and validation; the nature of passive reactions to ADR events makes SRSs perform poorly in terms of pharmacovigilance. The integration of an SRS system into EHRs could have potential to improve efficiency and effectiveness of detection for ADR events. The combination of an SRS with EHRs could help collect data and information related to ADRs dynamically while avoiding the need of data validation from multiple sources and potentially reducing the costs. [22]

Improvement of healthcare outcomes through interactive collaboration among stakeholders

It has been reported that the integration of a Network-Based Learning Health System with EHRs can potentially improve a variety of healthcare outcomes. For example, integrating chronical care management, quality improvement, patients and their family engagement, and comparative research. [23]. Therefore, EHRs can serve as an effective platform and infrastructure that fascinates online learning for all stakeholders, and patient-centered quality care and evidence-based medical research.


Return on investment

It is estimated that purchasing and installing an EMR can cost a provider anywhere from $15,000 to $70,000. There are several things to consider when looking for an EMR for your organization or practice. The prices vary based on number of providers using the EMR and whether it is a select on-site EHR deployment or web-based EHR deployment. Other factors to take into consideration of what costs you will incur include these 5 components of implementation: [24]

  • Hardware: Hardware costs may include database servers, desktop computers, tablets/laptops, printers, and scanners. [5]
  • EHR Software: Potential software costs include an EHR application, interface modules and upgrades to your EHR application. Remember, software costs vary depending on whether you select an on-site EHR deployment or a SaaS EHR deployment. [5]
  • Implementation Assistance: Potential implementation assistance costs include IT contractor, attorney, electrician, and/or consultant support; chart conversion; hardware/network installation; and workflow redesign support. [5]
  • Training: Your organization will need to train your physicians, nurses, and office staff before and during EHR implementation. [5]
  • Ongoing Network Fees and Maintenance: Potential ongoing costs include hardware and software license maintenance agreements, ongoing staff education, telecom fees, and IT support fees. [5]
  • Although the initial cost of an EMR may (and typically does) result in an immediate increase in administrative cost, through the reduction of other “removable and or defunct items or process the implementation of the EMR showed a positive improvement in the BCR and NPV. [25]
   examples: remodeling of paper-chart storage areas, medical transcriptions, shorter chain of communication, reduction of administrative material

==Cost vs Time == (A reduction of time spent on a common process can lead to reduced cost and better efficiency)

  • EMRs can greatly reduce or make more efficient use of time.

A recent study (July-2015)EMR decision support systems where proven to have reduced and or made more efficient use of the time needed for “Colorectal cancer screening where the immediate harms are balanced with longer-term benefits.” By providing a “personalized benefit/harm assessment”. [26]


For a proper return on investment a proper implementation of EHR is needed. lots of things have to be kept in mind for a successful implementation of an EHR.

  • Benefits and risks of the EHR.
  • cost
  • specifications of our needs and what we want and what the EHR have.
  • vendor certifications.
  • preparations for implementation and after.

The journal of Emergency medicine titled with "computers in Emergency medicine" talks about all aspects of EHR implementation. [27]

Neonatal Informatics and CPOE

Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) can be considered one of the major contributions to patient safety and health care quality from an EMR system implementation. CPOE and clinical decision support (CDS) systems have the potential to impact care of the critically ill neonatal patients to an even greater extent than other patient groups. Implementation of CPOE with CDS has been shown to specifically benefit Neonatal care intensive care units (NICU) with improved medication turnaround times, decreased medication errors, reduced adverse drug effects, and improved radiology turnaround times.[28]

While studies have shown these benefits to be consistent with CPOE and CDS equipped institutions, the effects of these systems on morbidity and mortality have been ambiguous. A 2005 article reported an increase in mortality rate with the implementation of an EMR system with CPOE in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).[29] The informaticists and hospital administration, determined that errors with the implementation process of the CPOE system resulted in these negative results. They stressed that a change in the workflow design was essential for a safer CPOE implementation. A more recent 2010 article reported a decrease in neonatal mortality rate using the exact same CPOE system.[30]These findings indicate that the implementation of the CPOE system needs to include careful consideration of workflow analysis. However, even with the utmost attention being given to ensure the safety of a new CPOE system, inadvertent issues may still arise with human error. An example of such would be a physician order entry on the wrong patient.[31]

Specialty clinics

EHR’s can significantly improve the productivity for specialty physician clinics such as for ophthalmology. Incorporating an EHR, a clinic can reduce process and time spent on recording patient data, as most diagnostic equipment can communicate with EHR’s. With medical and diagnostic equipment communicating with EHR’s, staff and technicians can focus more on the patient. [32]

Benefits Database

EMR Benefits: Benefits Database

A national repository of EMR benefits data is needed to help stakeholders make more informed decisions about EMR implementation and to facilitate monitoring and corrective redesign of existing EMR implementations. A framework for reporting data should be developed that will enable meaningful comparisons, provide uniform benefit categories and standardized methods of measurement and evaluation.[33]


EMR Benefits: Compliance

18. Hillestad, R., Bigelow, J., Bower, A., Girosi, F., Meili, R., Scoville, R., & Taylor, R. (2005). Can Electronic Medical Record Systems Transform Health Care? Potential Health Benefits, Savings, And Costs. Health Affairs, 1103-1117. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.24.5.1103 Health Aff September 2005 vol. 24 no. 5 1103-1117


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  2. Turley, M., Porter, C., Garrido, T., Gerwig, K., Young, S., Radler, L., & Shaber, R. (2011). Use of electronic health records can improve the health care industry’s environmental footprint. Health affairs, 30(5), 938-946.
  3. Tierney et al, Medical Education in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Era: Benefits, Challenges, and Future Directions http://tmclibrary.summon.serialssolutions.com/search?s.q=tierney+m+j#!/search?ho=t&l=en&q=Medical%20education%20in%20the%20electronic%20medical%20record%20(EMR)%20era:%20Benefits,%20challenges,%20and%20future%20directions.%20Academic%20Medicine
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  8. EMR ROI: A Pennsylvania family practice's investment in an EMR pays off three-fold. http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxyhost.library.tmc.edu/ps/i.do?p=HRCA&u=txshracd2509&id=GALE%7CA163469720&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&userGroup=txshracd2509
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  14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Enormous_Benefits
  15. http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/patient-participation
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  17. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 Healthcare IT News http://www.healthcareitnews.com/directory/e-prescribing
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  19. http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxyhost.library.tmc.edu/science/article/pii/S0882596314002413
  20. Wei, W.Q., Teixeira, P. L., Mo, H., Cronin, R. M., Warner, J. L., & Denny, J. C. Combining billing codes, clinical notes, and medications from electronic health records provides superior phenotyping performance. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: JAMIA. http://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocv130
  21. Pacurariu, A. C. Useful Interplay Between Spontaneous ADR Reports and Electronic Healthcare Records in Signal Detection. Drug Safety. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40264-015-0341-5.
  22. Marsolo, K., Margolis, P. A., Forrest, C. B., Colletti, R. B., & Hutton, J. J. A Digital Architecture for a Network-Based Learning Health System: Integrating Chronic Care Management, Quality Improvement, and Research. EGEMS (Washington, DC), 3(1), 1168.
  23. HealthcareIT.gov http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/faqs/how-much-going-cost-me http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/faqs/how-much-going-cost-me
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  28. Han, Y.Y., Carcillo, J.A., Venkataraman, S.T., et al. Unexpected increased mortality after implementation of a commercially sold computerized physician order entry system. Pediatrics. 2005;116:1506-1512. [PubMed: 16322178].
  29. Longhurst, C.A., Parast, L., Sandborg, C.I. et al. Decrease in hospital-wide mortality rate after implementation of a commercially sold computerized physician order entry system. Pediatrics. 2010;126:14-21. [PubMed: 20439590].
  30. Palma, J.P., Sharek, P.J., Classen, D.C., & Longhurst, C.A. (2011). Neonatal Informatics: Computerized Physician Order Entry. Neoreviews. 12:393-396. http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ezproxyhost.library.tmc.edu/pmc/articles/PMC3146345/
  31. Misch, D.M. Specialty-specific EHR system benefits both practice, patients: technologic innovation: how using EHR, practice management platform can improve standard of care and efficiency. http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxyhost.library.tmc.edu/ps/i.do?p=HRCA&u=txshracd2509&id=GALE%7CA312290264&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&userGroup=txshracd2509
  32. Thompson, D. I., Osheroff, J., Classen, D., & Sittig, D. F. (2006). A review of methods to estimate the benefits of electronic medical records in hospitals and the need for a national benefits database. Journal of healthcare information management: JHIM, 21(1), 62-68.