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EHR and Patient Self-Pay: A Tale of Two Provider Woes

By Clive Riddle, November 30, 2018

In the provider administrative world, two continuing challenges causing large audible sighs are dealing with EHRs and ever-increasing levels of patient cost-sharing. An 11-page report just released on the annual HFMA/Navigant survey tackles these topics, providing findings from responses of 107 hospital and health system CFOs and revenue cycle management executives.

On the EHR front, we are told that 56% of executives “said their organizations can’t keep up with EHR upgrades or underuse available EHR functions, up from 51% last year. Moreover, 56% of executives suggested EHR adoption challenges have been equal to or outweighed benefits specific to their organization’s revenue cycle performance.”

Timothy Kinney, managing director at Navigant, says “hospitals and health systems have invested a significant amount of time and money into their EHRs, but the technology’s complexity is preventing them from realizing an immediate return on their investments.”

The survey found that 44% quickly adapt to EHR functional release, and the above cited 56% includes 39% that underutilize available EHR functions, and 17% can’t keep up with EHR functions. Regarding adoption challenges and benefits, the also above cited 56% includes 34% stating benefits and challenges are equal, and 22% who feel challenges outweigh benefits.

Regarding patient self-pay, the report tells us that 81% of executives “believe the increase in consumer responsibility for costs will continue to affect their organizations, down from 92% last year. Among them, 22% think that impact will be significant, compared to 40% last year. Executives from health systems and larger hospitals believe their organizations will be more heavily impacted by consumer self-pay.”

Navigant Managing Director James McHugh comments that “the impact of consumer self-pay on providers will only increase with the popularity of high-deductible health plans and negative changes to the economy. Providers must take advantage of opportunities to more holistically educate patients on out-of-pocket costs, predict their propensity to pay as early as possible, and secure alternative payers or financing when needed.”

The survey results seem to indicate self-pay continues to be a big issue, yet is more manageable now than a year ago. Time will tell if that trend continues.


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