EHRs Bringing Savings for Senior Living Adopters

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Although electronic health records may seem to be financially feasible for larger senior living providers, the paperless record keeping technology may also pay a larger role as healthcare reforms are changing the landscape of how senior care for providers will exist on all sides of the spectrum. Despite the low adoption rates, those who have switched say that EHRs are worth the change. The technology helps to streamline operations, reduce labor hours for community staffs, and limit paper usage. Preliminary data show that 79% of the largest LeadingAge members have an EHR system in place, according to results from LeadingAge and Ziegler’s jointly commissioned LZ 100 survey. While this might appear a staggering majority, there are several things to consider, says Majd Alwan, senior vice president of technology with LeadingAge.

The nearly 80 percent only represents a 56 percent response rate of the largest 100 LeadingAge members who the survey was fielded for. The providers featured represent larger, multi-site organizations that have multiple businesses, so their yes responses my not apply to all of their sites or business lines as a result. It doesn’t mean that the smaller providers aren’t interested, but it’s more affordable for larger providers generally. They have more resources to spend. Investing in EHRs depends on a number of factors, such as the current business line and the type of EHR model that the provider is interested in adopting.

Of 81 senior living organizations that responded to a Ziegler-LeadingAge Technology Spending Survey last year, 46.3% invested in electronic medical records (EMR) in the past 12 months preceding the September 2012 survey. Looking forward, 70.1% said they plan to increase their investment in EMRs over the next 12 months. Those who are interested in using an EHR system throughout their communities have to consider some of the options that are available to them. All of them have varying costs depending on the type of system that’s being provided. Under a Software as a Service, where a provider contracts directly with an EHR/EMR vendor for an annual service charge, implementing the technology could cost of up to $259,394 for a 25-bed facility over a period of five years when based on data from the Chief Information Officer Consortium.

For a third party hosted solution, the cost of implementing would cost the same facility $254,279 over the period of five years. An in house solution where providers would be able to purchase the EHR/EMR software and then host their own data center using the equipment is the most expensive method. It would cost $355,616 over a five year period. Throughout that five year period, the costs would also represent on average, 0.50 percent of annual revenue for facilities that are using the SaaS option, 0.49 of annual revenue for those who are using a hosted option, and 0.68 percent for providers who are opting for the in house solution. However, experts believe that EMR adoption would lead to improved resident outcomes and will provide a large return on investment.