May 26, 2022
Advancements in technology have made digital information methods more popular, resulting in a plethora of benefits for the healthcare sector. Electronic data storage is the need of the hour to access the updated patient records and relevant information. It assists in systematic and quick data transmission that helps in taking efficient and accurate decisions. One of the most popular medical data storage systems is electronic health records (EHR). Below is a complete guide on how to implement an EHR and how much it will cost.
Electronic health records trends of 2022 have transformed the way medical records are stored, managed, and accessed. The digital method has not only made it possible to store data in one place but also aids in quick and easier data accessibility among healthcare professionals but still, a lot of healthcare organizations are in the initial stages of implementing EHRs.
Before taking a look at the benefits, the primary thing you will be looking at is choosing the right vendor. There are plenty of providers out there claiming to deliver excellent services but the reality is quite the opposite. You need to select the right system for your practice as per your needs so that it will deliver desired results. With the help of EHR, healthcare organizations can streamline their workflow without compromising on security. There are several other benefits as well and some of them are stated below:
Handling patient information is a tricky process as you need to take care of all the details. A plethora of issues are associated with manual handling such as unique terminologies and spelling mistakes. On the other hand, with the integration of EHR, the practices can easily avoid all these issues at once to eliminate any probability of inconsistency.
With an electronic health records (EHR) software in place, a physician/doctor can access the reports and other essentials from a single platform that works as a singular interface that helps them to interact, respond and suggest the next steps in the treatment of a patient. Healthcare providers can get medical information from other organizations to deliver patient care. It not only saves time but money as well, lowering the overall cost of healthcare services.
Electronic systems are tailor-made to provide effective communication and coordination among all healthcare professionals. This hassle-free data exchange minimizes the chances of information misplacement. Moreover, the practitioners will have all the patient’s medical data including complete medical history, information on allergies, and details about the previous treatments as well.
For all healthcare businesses, the complete cost of EHR systems is one of the biggest concerns. To cater to this issue, the healthcare organizations need to not only have a realistic budget in mind but they need to plan and prepare as well to avoid any inconvenience during the implementation. Below is the complete breakdown of the cost of implementing EHR systems in hospitals.
Normally if you are a multi-dollar practice, EHR implementation will cost you anywhere between $150k to $162k whereas $85k would be the maintenance cost of the first year. It is an average cost and can change as per the practice’s requirements. The cost mainly depends upon the deployment methods i.e., cloud and on-premises. If the practice is selecting on-site deployment, the electronic health records software will be integrated on the practice’s server but for this option, a perpetual license is needed and it has an upfront fee as well. There are a lot of other requirements as well such as servers, data backup, and data storage options.
The most popular option out there is cloud-based EHR deployment because of its convenience. The data will be stored on the vendor’s server and can be easily accessed with the help of the internet. Usually, the charges of cloud-based EHR software are on a monthly and annual basis. The upfront cost depends upon the features you are subscribing to. The practices don’t need to worry about the storage, servers, and security because the vendor will take care of these issues. The accessibility is limited in cloud-based systems and the cost of implementation is quite high. So, make sure to select a top-notch service provider so that there will be no issues whatsoever.
Apart from implementation and upfront cost, there are plenty of other indirect costs associated with these systems. When a practice integrates a new system, it requires staff training that is quite costly. There will be a time when the practice will be negatively influenced because it takes time to adjust to the new system. There will be reduced productivity at that time and it will have an adverse effect on the revenue.
When a practice implements an EHR system, the workload on the information technology (IT) team increases because a lot of new tools will be needed. Some of them are stated below:
There is a fair possibility that the current team will have difficulties understanding the new system and you will be in need of a whole new team. This staffing cost needs to be considered while determining the cost of EHR implementation. To get a precise idea about the cost, taking a look at the EHR budget plan and examples of different companies will help a lot.
In-patient and ambulatory EHR systems are designed to enhance the efficiency and management of healthcare practices. These systems improve cost-efficiency by reducing not only transcription costs, refilling costs, and storage costs but also the charge pill cost as well. With improved access to patients' records, the percentage of medical errors decreases significantly. This system manages the disease by educating the patients to provide quality care.
With the help of the EHR, hospitals' daily routine tasks are automated, resulting in reduced paperwork. The practices can save time on administrative tasks and use it to streamline their medical tasks to enhance their efficiency. It also reduces the communication cost because the information updates automatically.
E-prescribing feature reduces the chances of prescription errors. This option knocks out the need for paper to write down medicinal prescriptions. The EHR has all the updated medical records that will eliminate the chances of duplicated tests.
Getting a precise estimate is not possible because the price depends upon the features you want to add to your EHR system. The average cost range of EHR implementation is between $15k to $70k. The implementation cost varies from system to system – web-based and on-site systems. If you choose a cloud-based EHR system, you need to pay a subscription fee as well but for an on-site system, continuous management and support are required.
Below are five key components that impact the cost of an EHR implementation.
The healthcare sector is still far behind when it comes to the deployment of the latest technologies. This lag is affecting the quality of medical services for the patients but it also has adverse effects on the revenue. With the integration of EHR systems, healthcare organizations not just improve the quality of care but also reduce the cost of services.
As per research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
“89.9% of office-based physicians are using EHR”.
With a wide variety of options, EHR systems provide hassle-free access to data to enhance documentation and data sensitivity. With the EHR integration, all the costs related to storage and billing will have improved efficiency. Revenue development and retrieval of charts will be enhanced with the implementation of EHR. Powerful EHR empowers your practice's revenue and minimizes inconsistencies in productivity. To get the most out of the EHR, practices need to fully implement this system and train the staff accordingly.
Cost-benefit analysis helps healthcare organizations to have a clear idea about the return on investment. This analysis clears confusion regarding integration and encourages the practices to implement EHR.
Practices can determine the monetary value of both the cost and advantages of EHRs with the help of cost-benefit analysis. The four key steps of this analysis are determining the goals, providing the estimate in preferred currency, discounted price, and decision-making calculations.
The financial model to evaluate the ROI of EHRs is designed using a team of professionals of various expertise. The team consists of experts in finance, informatics, researchers, and the economy belonging to the healthcare sector, and the model is designed in collaboration with the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
The model not only determines the ledger entries but also categorizes the EHR benefits. It is also designed to provide insights into the direct and indirect outcomes of EHR integration. The financial officers use the cost and benefit assumption so the model delivers credibility to board members. The best thing about the process is that it identifies the right approach to implementing EHR. If we dig deeper into quantifiable advantages, they are increased revenue, enhanced productivity, and improved operational efficiency.
Roughly the implementation of EHR will take between 2-4 months. Having an implementation plan helps the vendors to make sure that the deadlines are met and all related tasks are completed in a timely manner. If there is any update regarding the plan, communication with everyone should be done via a shared device. It is also crucial that the integration plan has go-live data so that it can cover all the phases of the process. The date depends upon the workflow adaptation and systems configuration but it is good to have a target in mind.
According to the Health Information and Technology, Evaluation, and Quality Center (HITEQ), irrespective of the practice size, it takes around 12 months for EHR planning to go live. If the practices are modifying the existing EMRs, the implementation time will be reduced. The time gets shortened to a couple of weeks if the practice is integrating a cloud-based EHR system.
When the EHR system goes-live, practices need to adjust and optimize workflow operations accordingly. It is crucial to update the practice’s policies and procedures after the integration of EHR. The changes may include the updates linked with the HIPAA compliance rules and regulations. When the successful EHR implementation is done correctly, it will not only enhance the revenue but also saves a lot of time by automating administrative, clinical, and financial tools.
The breakdown of server and support maintenance costs usually depends upon two factors, license and the type of EHR you are looking to implement. Selection of the license is a tricky thing to do so make sure to select the right license. The prices of licenses are as follows:
Perpetual License – To get this license, the practices need to pay an upfront fee to own an EHR system and it is usually for in-house implementation. If the practice opts for a one-time payment, it will cost around $500k. This cost doesn’t include hardware charges as they depend upon the quality. All the maintenance, upgrades, and ad hoc maintenance comes under recurring expenses. Subscription license – This type of license is normally used for cloud-based electronic health records software and includes a monthly subscription fee. Upfront cost consists of setup and installation while recurring cost includes all the premium features. Any extra storage, customization, and integration all come under the umbrella of hidden costs.
To get a precise quote, the practices need to get in touch with an EHR vendor because the server maintenance and support cost depends upon the vendor.
It is quite tricky to get a precise cost of maintenance since the final price depends upon a lot of factors. The factors include the type and make of an EHR system, integration method, and vendor. There is no fixed training budget because of the following factors:
To get a realistic idea about the training budget, taking a look at the different hospitals' EHR implementation budgets will help a lot. As per the study, the cost also depends upon the nature of the teams. For the network implementation team, more than 73 hours of training are required and it will cost around $3k. The practice implementation team needs 50+ hours of training and the cost will be $2.8k. 23.9 hours will be enough for the end-user training and it can be completed for up to $1.6k.
The primary and most significant EHR adoption barrier is the upfront cost. Other than that, not only ongoing maintenance costs but the technical support and technical glitches are also obstacles to EHR implementation. The following are some of the detailed insights into electronic health records barriers:
As discussed earlier, the key barrier in electronic health records implementation is the cost because it is a big system with plenty of options. EHR is still relatively new technology due to which both the maintenance and upfront costs are pretty high. Practices find it challenging to get the capital from the authorities for the EHR but if they have a clear idea about the cost, it will help them a lot in getting approval for the funding.
Due to increased compliance checks and other major barriers, it is important to keep the security of the data intact. Compliance like HITECH and HIPAA makes the job tough for any EHR software to protect the data from any theft. This is the reason why the legalities and excessive regulations come as a top-tier
challenge. Usually, the goal is to maintain the security and privacy of medical data transfer. These strict rules have an impact and are making it difficult for the practices to implement EHR software.
Another important obstacle in EHR implementation is time. From a practice’s point of view, it takes a lot of time to get used to the new technology. Time hurdles include acquisition, implementation, and utilization of the latest technology. Due to the busy work schedule, the healthcare professionals don’t have enough time to indulge in training sessions. Moreover, the medical professionals need an assurance that the system will benefit them by reducing both the treatment time and workload.
Change in technology is one of the biggest hurdles in electronic health records implementation as it can have adverse effects on workflow, documentation as well as patient treatment. Without a doubt, this technology has the potential to transform the healthcare sector but to get the most out of it, challenges need to be addressed at the earliest. Once the implementation is completed, it will help the providers to streamline their workflow to provide quality care.
It is a proven fact that new technologies often feel complex and not easy to learn, making it another obstacle to implementing EHR. To implement it without having an adverse effect on the quality of care, the system needs to deploy with the existing workflow. Perception needs to change quickly to get the desired results. For this purpose, not only must the interface be easy to understand but also have quick access. Showing that the new system is designed to increase the productivity and efficiency of the practices will also provide a better implementation ratio.
With the massive adoption, the electronic health records systems are quickly becoming a “must-have” system in the healthcare industry. They are helping the practices in delivering top-quality patient care services. Moreover, this system is designed to automate administrative tasks to provide freedom to medical professionals to focus more on delivering quality care. so, even with a long list of hurdles such as upfront cost, strict rules, and regulations, and time to implement the EHR, it is still worth it and the practices should move to this technology at the earliest to not only streamline their workflow but also improve efficiency and productivity.
Q: How much does talkEHR cost?
A: The talkEHR’s Pro version starts from $249 per provider per month with an additional $995 setup fee. The prices are subjective depending on the features a provider is looking to get.
Q: Is EHR worth the costs of integration?
A: Without a doubt, the EHRs are totally worth the cost of implementation because of the results they are delivering. There are some challenges at an early stage but the reward is exceptional.
Q: What are the major factors on which the cost of EHR implementation is associated with?
A: Well, there are a lot of factors but the key factors on which the cost of EHR implementation usually depends on the infrastructure, training, and the features a practice is getting.