Outcomes-based reimbursement is the future of the health industry, proclaims a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers titled “Needles in a haystack: Seeking knowledge with clinical informatics.” And electronic health records (EHR) will likely play a central role in helping healthcare institutions improve patient outcomes and manage their financial performance. By the end of the year, the majority of U.S. healthcare providers are expected to implement EHR. And it is only a matter of time until pretty much all medical records are available on a digitized format.

April 6, 2012

3 Min Read
The Value of Electronic Health Records for the Life Sciences Industry

Outcomes-based reimbursement is the future of the health industry, proclaims a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers titled “Needles in a haystack: Seeking knowledge with clinical informatics.” And electronic health records (EHR) will likely play a central role in helping healthcare institutions improve patient outcomes and manage their financial performance. By the end of the year, the majority of U.S. healthcare providers are expected to implement EHR. And it is only a matter of time until pretty much all medical records are available on a digitized format.

“With respect to electronic health records, I think there is a tremendous promise in the data that is captured,” says Steve LoSardo, CIO Health Industries Advisory at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). “Whether you are a payer, a provider, a pharma or med device company, it is the first time you can have access to data or information at the point of care.”

Understanding what happens in a physician’s office has been historically difficult for outside entities to understand. The paper records doctors have used traditionally make analysis of patient outcomes difficult. For that reason, understanding the true cost of patient care can also be a challenge.

By contrast, electronic health records are relatively simple to analyze— especially if you can integrate them and put them into some type of data warehouse or an analytical environment for clinical informatics, Lo Sardo says.

The key is that EHRs can provide an improved view of a patient’s experience. They make available information regarding when the patient came into and left the physician’s office, what symptoms they had, which drugs are devices were used in their treatment, whether they were admitted to the hospital, and so forth.

“So the promise for payers, providers, as well as pharma and medical device companies is to really understand what is happening in the clinical setting,” LoSardo says. This insight will lead to improved understanding of reimbursement.

For instance, in the case of a diabetic patient who goes to the doctor’s office, EHRs will keep track of what kind of drugs they were prescribed, whether they also received a glucose monitor, whether they worked with a case worker who helped them understand their disease. “Now all of the sudden, the cost of a disease is better understood,” LoSardo says. “That is something that payers are very interested in: understanding what is the cost of disease versus what is the cost of the drug or the device alone.”

The medical device and pharmaceutical industries will be interested in such information because they want to understand what the cost of treatment and comparative effectiveness of their product versus competitive products.

Providers can use such data to understand how their treatment of patients differs from how other physicians treat patients.

“There are a lot of different angles when looking at [EHR] data but it really comes down to the patient and really understanding all of the places the patient touches in the health system. And really the only place to see that is in these electronic medical records and electronic health records.”

Brian Buntz is the editor-at-large at UBM Canon's medical group. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz.

Sign up for the QMED & MD+DI Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like