5. Leverage new technology to fill the care coordination gaps EHRs cannot address

Despite expectations, most CFOs don’t see a return on investment with their EHR. More than anything, implementing an EHR was a move from manual to digital, and it added a level of safety and efficiency, but it didn’t add much value beyond that, according to Mr. French.

“When volume is moving outside to lower cost, lower acuity settings, technology has to go with it, and EHRs aren’t designed to do that,” he said.

Nonetheless, EHRs are a sunk cost, so health systems need to look forward and see how they can digitally leverage EHRs to manage care more effectively, capture revenue more fully and deliver a better patient experience. According to Mr. French, this will need to be done with new tools, likely a network-level technology that can connect physicians and other clinicians and enable communication and transitions. A network-level mechanism can help physicians coordinate care, whether they are not part of the hospital or not.

Although the financial benefits of EHRs have not been as great as initially expected, it’s not all doom and gloom. “From a patient perspective, there has been some real true benefit from EHRs,” Ms. Torossian said. For example, Henry Ford Health has been able to exchange more than 1 million patient records from almost every state in the country, she said. This means someone who is on vacation in Florida from Detroit that needs medical care can go to the hospital or physician’s office and those providers can still access their patient record if they use the same system.

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