EHR Technology’s Affect On Medicaid Costs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Information Products & Data Analytics has released a research report evaluating EHR adoption on a Massachusetts EHR pilot program. The Impact of Electronic Health Records on Ambulatory Costs Among Medicaid Beneficiaries analyzed how adoption and use of EHR technology affected healthcare costs in the Medicaid population.
Calculating monthly ambulatory costs and visit measures from Medicaid claims data for beneficiaries receiving the majority of their care in the three Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC) pilot communities and six controlled communities, the researchers found increases in healthcare costs in one pilot program but decreases in another, suggesting there are other factors that determine cost savings associated with adopting EHR technology. The researchers concluded that as a stand-alone approach, adoption of ambulatory EHRs in community practices did not consistently impact Medicaid costs in the short-run, suggesting that going forward, future requirements for meaningful use may need to be tied to cost savings and payment reform efforts.
The researchers acknowledge this may be the first study that examines the question of the impact of EHR technology on healthcare costs specifically in the Medicaid population. They say Medicaid population is an important group to study for three reasons. From the report:
1. Medicaid recipients have particularly complex care needs and, therefore, improved information management that EHRs enable may result in particularly notable outcomes compared with commercially insured populations.
2. The Medicaid program has historically faced issues with access to care, which emphasizes the need to understand how the impact on costs and visits that we observed relates to other outcomes. Since it is possible that reduced costs and visits are an indicator of worse care, we hope that future work will be able to examine the impact of EHRs on access and quality alongside costs in the Medicaid population.
3. Medicaid is one of the government programs investing heavily in EHRs through designing and administering meaningful use incentives for providers who predominantly treat Medicaid patients. The Medicaid program, therefore, not only has a particular interest in ensuring that the program is successful, but it has the ability to shape it going forward.
Read and download the CMS report here.