Hospitals that are located near a high number of IT firms are more likely to achieve cost savings from adopting electronic health record systems than hospitals located near fewer IT firms, according to a report prepared for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Modern Healthcare reports.
For the report, researchers examined hospitals that adopted EHR systems between 1996 and 2009. They found that the best predictors of how EHR adoption affected costs were the hospitals':
- Proximity to IT companies; and
- Experience with health IT upgrades.
They noted that hospitals in "IT-intensive markets" saw a cost decrease of as much as 3.4% three years after the adoption of an EHR system. However, hospitals in areas with fewer IT firms experienced a cost increase of as much as 4%, even six years after EHR adoption.
Researchers Comment on Findings
According to the researchers, the study could provide an explanation for why health IT adoption lowers costs for some hospitals while increasing costs for others.
They noted that hospitals in areas with readily available IT personnel and resources might be best equipped to optimize their use of health IT systems and generate cost savings.
David Dranove -- an author of the report and a professor in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University -- said the study shows that when it comes to EHR adoption, "differences in outcomes relate to differences in local conditions" (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 8/14).