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A flawed approach to studying EHR cost-effectiveness

  • Steven Shaha, Ph.D., DBA
  • 03/08/2012

A study published this week in Health Affairs purports to call into question the ability of Electronic Health Records to reduce imaging and lab tests and therefore save money.  The study has been reported in the New York Times and elsewhere but generally with little insight into the substance of the authors’ argument.   A closer look reveals that, far from proving that EHRs cannot deliver their promised cost savings, the study provides compelling evidence that EHRs armed with advanced Clinical Decision Support (CDS) are what is most needed to cut costs while improving quality.  The size of datasets analyzed by the researchers is rock solid, as are the results quoted. But the conclusions in the study raise as many questions as they answer. Most notably, the final sentence in the authors’ abstract reads: “We conclude that use of these health […]