Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

Rural providers latch onto cloud-based EHRS

March 10, 2017 AT 1:57 PM

Since the early days of EHRs, the price tag for implementing new systems has been a particular burden for rural and smaller healthcare organizations, but the rise of cloud-based EHRs is beginning to change that.

Indeed, according to a report in Healthcare Finance News, some rural providers say the investment in a cloud-based EHR not only saved their organizations from closing their doors, but also yielded financial gains and a new wave of quality and patient satisfaction improvements. 

For example, at Lost Rivers Medical Center in Arco, Idaho, a 14-bed critical access hospital that, four years ago, was already $3.5 million into bankruptcy and anticipating added costs due to meaningful use, “a cloud-based solution was an affordable way to quickly modernize their operation and bring them successfully through stage one attestation.”

According to CEO Brad Huerta, when you have an integrated system with one patient record that instantly updates when information is entered anywhere in the system by any provider, clinical mistakes go down. There is no double ordering of tests, no duplicating care or misdiagnosing. The record is up to date the second info is entered.

"Mistakes go down and quality goes up. Certainly, physician satisfaction definitely goes way up. It's a lot easier to chart from your tablet than having to go back to the doctors' lounge.”

Patient costs also go down because mistakes like unneeded tests diminish, and outcomes improved thanks to better accuracy of patient information and corresponding care decisions, Huerta said.

Whether it is a platform from athenahealth, which Lost Rivers chose, or some other vendor, Huerta now says he'd require that any hospital he ever works in adopt a cloud-based EHR.

"Our survivability is assured. I have no doubt we will be here next year and 10 years from now. We're actually starting construction on a surgery center, we're expanding our hospital. We've given out merit increases and cost of living increases. We are very financially sound at this point.”