Electronic health record (EHR) systems are an enormous investment. This investment comes in the form of time, labor, and of course, money. Whether a medical practice chooses to host an on-site EHR system or subscribe to a web-based system, these costs demand significant planning and preparation.
Understanding the cost breakdown of an EHR system can help a medical practice not only prepare for the financial investment but also generate implementation focus.
What is the cost of an EHR?
Estimates of EHR costs have ranged anywhere from $15,000 to $70,000 per provider. Many factors drive this expense.
First, the development and design of the system itself is a concrete contributor to the value of electronic medical records. EHR cost is also affected by the degree of interfaces and integrations it offers, particularly with respect to other health records systems.
Implementation decisions also impact the cost. Practices implementing an in-house, locally-hosted system, have higher costs than for those adopting a web-based SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
Regulatory requirements, compliance, and certification, are also a significant source of EHR cost. Testing and certifications to meet Meaningful Use requirements or updates to align with changes such as ICD-10 are examples of how these areas influence EHR cost.
Once selected by a client or practice, user interfaces, customization, implementation, and training also contribute to EHR cost.
Evaluating Cost of EHR
One of the very best sources for evaluation of EHR pricing is the vendor. During this stage, it is important to scrutinize options with a critical eye to truly evaluate what an electronic records system delivers.
Questions such as “How will data migration or input from paper charts impact pricing?” or “What is the training timeline and volume?” can help your practice to determine value vs. cost for a particular vendor.
This step requires doing appropriate research beforehand on the scope, features, and requirements you’re looking for in an EHR.
Understanding Cost and Value of EHR
High costs should equate to high value. This is true of any service, and healthcare HITaaS (Healthcare IT as a Service) is certainly no exception. Experienced vendors should be able to provide clients with a thorough understanding of the value of their systems and services as well as the cost. This value translates into meaningful benefits for your medical practice, both immediately and down the line.
EHR value should be measurable with concrete metrics including documentation accuracy, workflow efficiencies, and more. And while this means that vendors are responsible for exceptional service, it’s important to remember that you can’t knock cost without knowing the expected value.