Hardly any hospitals in the U.S. are just adopting an EHR for the first time. By 2017, 9 out of 10 office-based physicians were using an EHR daily. By the end of 2021, virtually all doctors are expected to use electronic health records. However, many healthcare institutions are planning to switch to a new EHR. As a CIO, you may be actively involved in estimating the cost of implementing a new EHR. The costs will vary depending on the size of the facility, the number of branches, and the mode of deployment.
Let’s look at estimating and minimizing the cost of implementing a new EHR in your organization.
1. Understand the Cost Components
To make a reasonable estimate of EHR costs, consider these cost components.
- EHR Software: The bulk of the cost of the EHR is allocated to paying the EHR vendor. Some vendors deploy on-premise, cloud-based, or hybrid solutions. Most cloud-based solutions require subscriptions in the form of a monthly or annual payment.
- New Hardware: This component covers the cost of acquiring new hardware to host or access the EHR system. On-premise installations require procurement of new servers and workstations. For cloud-based deployment, you may need to buy new laptops, tablets, or smart devices.
- Installation: Add the cost of hiring technicians to install new network equipment, computers, routers, switches, or new office wiring. If you plan to deploy a fully integrated EHR, you also need to add the cost of any networking equipment.
- IT and User Training: Plan for comprehensive training before full deployment and refresher training after implementation. Estimate the cost of training members of your IT team and the clinicians that will use the system daily.
- Support and Maintenance: Add ongoing support costs. After deployment, you may need to pay fees to a managed IT company to maintain in-house and cloud-based infrastructure.
2. Decide on the Most Vital Features
Before you begin the search for a suitable EHR vendor or brand, list out your preferences. Don’t wait till you start watching live demos before you decide. You may end up buying what you don’t need.
Ask other colleagues who are satisfied with their EHR to tell you the features they love and those they hate. If you are already using an EHR system, list out the features you treasure, those you urgently need, and those you can do without.
Don’t focus on the EHR system alone. Consider how you will integrate it with all systems, including your billing system, lab/radiology information system, and practice management.
3. Deploy a Cloud-based EHR
Your organization can save costs by opting for a cloud-based system instead of an on-premise installation. A cloud-based deployment allows you to save hardware costs.
You will not need to procure in-house servers, routers, switches and put them in a secure room. Instead, all your users can securely connect with your cloud-based EHR from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Also, most cloud deployments can be done in modules, and you can increase or reduce the software modules when necessary.
4. Avoid the Cheapest Alternative
For most EHRs, the quality and price are related. While some EHRs are created to suit specific practices like ambulatory and in-house EHRs, the low-cost EHRs are seldom efficient.
For instance, most low-cost and “free” EHRs will load slowly, have fewer features, and generally lack powerful add-ons like voice input and decision support.
Low-cost EHRs also come without detailed training and support. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time troubleshooting your system, choosing a reputable vendor that offers 24/7 support is better.
Learn More About Optimizing the Cost of EHR Implementation
Contact Lifepoint Informatics now at 877.522.8378 to discuss your EHR implementation project. We have completed over 20,000 projects since 1999. Visit our contact page now to schedule a free consultation or see a demo of our interoperability solutions.