EHRs Were Supposed to Save Money— But Aren’t

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom: Electronic Health Records Are

Actually Costlier for Practices, Intrusive for Patient Privacy and Contribute to Physician Burnout; 
CCHF Releasing New Book on EHRs in Coming Months


ST. PAUL, Minn.—Proponents of electronic health records (EHRs) say digital medical records are supposed to cut costs, but a new major study by researchers at Harvard Business School and Duke University shows how the promised savings aren’t materializing.

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org) isn’t surprised.

According to Forbes, the Harvard/Duke research found that generating a single bill at Duke University Medical costs anywhere from $20 to $215, depending on the type of visit. That’s despite the fact that Duke has an established EHR system and an efficient, centralized billing department. Forbes also reported that administrative costs account for at least a quarter of health care spending in the United States—twice the overhead in Canada and significantly higher than most other high-resource countries.

Forbes added that using government-certified EHR systems to digitize patient records was supposed to make the process more efficient and drive down costs—in theory.

“But that hasn’t happened,” said CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase, who is releasing a new book on EHRs in the coming months. “Instead, government-mandated EHRs have increased costs. These systems are costly to install and maintain, and often more staff must be added or utilized for all the administration work and red tape. But CCHF has other concerns about these EHRs as well, such as the impact on patient privacy and the negative effects on care and the trusted patient-doctor relationship.”

In fact, EHRs rack up costs that are more than financial. Late last year in its daily Health Freedom Minute, which airs on more than 800 stations nationwide, CCHF reported that 54 percent of physicians are affected by burnout. And a leading cause is the congressional mandate that they use EHRs for detailed data collection and reporting. In the radio feature, Brase cited a study reported by Yahoo titled, “Counting the Costs: U.S. Hospitals Feeling the Pain of Physician Burnout,” which found that doctors spend two hours at the computer for every hour spent caring for patients.

“For every physician who quits the profession because of burnout,” Brase said, “it costs more than $1 million to recruit and train another doctor. Burnout is not just bad for doctors and their families, it’s bad for patients. Congress is long overdue to repeal the EHR mandate.”

Brase’s new book, “Big Brother in the Exam Room: The Dangerous Truth About Electronic Health Records,” which is published by Beaver’s Pond Press, will show how Congress forced doctors to install a data-collecting surveillance system in the exam room. It includes hard facts from over 125 studies and reports about the impact of EHRs on patient care, costs, and patient safety. It also exposes how patient treatment decisions are controlled and tracked by the EHR, shares specific steps back to freedom, privacy and patient safety; and communicates why Americans must act now.

For more information about CCHF, visit www.cchfreedom.org, its Facebook page or its Twitter feed @CCHFreedom. Also view the media page for CCHF here. For more CCHF reports on health privacy and surveillance, visit the CCHF privacy page. For more about CCHF’s initiative to protect newborn DNA, visit www.itsmydna.org.

 

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