Does Implementing Health IT Add Value?

by Rod Piechowski, HIMSS Senior Director, Health Information Systems

Does implementing health IT add value to a hospital? Hawaii Pacific Health (HPH) answers that question with a resounding “yes!”  This HIMSS Davies Award winner has improved overall safety, quality and effectiveness of care while demonstrating an annual return on investment of nine percent over ten years.

HPH, with four hospitals, 49 outpatient clinics, and over 1,300 physicians, credits the implementation of its EHR, and health IT as a whole, for its success. In fact, HPH credits its EHR as the cornerstone of its success. They have accomplished what they have because of the way they’ve leveraged the power of health IT; they’ve achieved savings while improving quality and the patient experience.

Because HPH’s EHR extended across the organization, they can better coordinate a patient’s care and be accountable for the care provided. Everyone involved in a patient’s care has the information needed at the time it’s needed.

Savings were made possible by careful coordination throughout all departments. HPH reduced support costs by consolidating 32 major systems across radiology, pharmacy, scheduling, accounting, clinical and patient management systems. It reduced write-offs, transcription costs and reduced its “cost-to-collect” costs. Within three months of implementing their EHR, cost-to-collect had fallen from 2.62 cents per dollar collected, to 1.5 cents. This improvement, which has remained for five years, will save $51 million over the next 10 years.  Prior to implementation of its EHR, HPH was losing more than $5 million annually in avoidable write-offs; much of this was from process or workflow problems. 

On the clinical side, HPH says health IT “enabled every aspect of clinical improvement.” Electronic dashboards, alerts, disease registries, work queues to build collaboration, and a clinical surveillance system contributed to the positive changes not only in inpatient and outpatient settings, but in the level of patient empowerment. Improvements were made in many measurements of quality including reducing central line infections, ventilator and catheter associated infections, and cancer screening.

Some clinical improvements, especially with diabetic patients, were dramatic.  Beginning in 2010, HPH’s HealthAdvantage pilot program fully leverages the ambulatory EHR and achieves clinical improvements in chronic disease management and population health.  At the start of the program, approximately eight percent of patients identified as diabetics were receiving exactly the type of ongoing, routine care to help keep them healthy (such as cholesterol and blood pressure control). That number rose to 20 percent by 2012, which ranks impressively high compared to the rest of the country.

No, success didn’t come overnight, but the EHR was central to the turnaround. HPH realized positive cash flow in 2008, the fifth year of its project. Read the entire case study at our Davies Awards site, and get more ideas on how to make health IT your cornerstone investment.

How has health IT added value to your practice or enterprise?  Please share your stories in the comments!

About Elinore Boeke

Sr. Manager, Public Policy Communications - part of the HIMSS Government Relations team in Washington, DC. For health IT-related public policy updates, follow me on Twitter @ElinoreBoeke, and subscribe to the complimentary HIMSS Health IT Policy update e-newsletter at
This entry was posted in HIMSS News and Developments, Patient-Centered Systems, Value of Health IT and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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