Report: Cost discouraging long-term care providers from using EHRs

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Post-acute care providers may think of electronic health records systems as too complicated and costly, according to a federal report published Monday.

Post-acute settings have limited use of EHRs, which spurred the Government Accountability Office to investigate why adoption is slow, according to the report.

Cost is the top factor inhibiting use, along with ability to exchange EHR information, the watchdog agency found. Facilities' financial resources are often limited to cover initial implementation costs of an EHR, let alone costs of exchanging information and maintenance, the report said.

Varying implementation standards, finding post-acute relevant health information among exchanged data, workflow disruptions and technological challenges also ranked as barriers to EHR use. Post-acute providers also told the GAO that a lack of staff expertise, coupled with high staff turnover, leads to a “constant need” to train staff on the technology.

The report highlighted four efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage EHR use in the post-acute sector, including financial awards and Medicaid matching funds. But the department hasn't measured the effectiveness of those efforts, the GAO said, and “lacks a comprehensive plan to meet its goal for post-acute care.”

“Without a comprehensive plan to address these issues, HHS risks not achieving its goal of increasing EHR use and the electronic exchange of health information in post-acute care settings,” the report reads.

The GAO recommended that HHS evaluate the effectiveness of those efforts, and create a plan on how to achieve its goal of electronic health records' use and information exchange in post-acute settings. HHS agreed with the recommendations, according to the report.

Click here to read the full report.