Electronic health records were supposed to cut medical costs by driving down administrative expenses. However, despite a wider adoption of EHRs, reductions in billing costs have not been realised, says a new study by Harvard Business School and Duke University researchers.The theory was that part of having electronic records was to lower the cost. We didnt find much evidence for that, says study co-author Robert S. Kaplan, senior fellow and Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.The study, conducted at Duke University Medical Center in 2016 and 2017, found that generating a single bill cost anywhere from $20 to $215 depending on the type of visit. Thats despite the fact that Duke has an established EHR) system and an efficient, centralised billing department, Kaplan points out.Administrative costs account for at least a quarter of healthcare spending in the United States. That is twice the administrative overhead found in Canada and is significantly higher than most other wealthy countries.While automation may help on some record-keeping tasks, it also imposes its own costs, Kaplan says, explaining why the use of EHR systems has not resulted in lower billing costs. In fact, more costs were shifted over to doctors in that they had to enter more codes into the so-called automated system, Kaplan says. Turns out that that gets them annoyed, and it distracts them from dealing with the patient.

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