How to calculate the cost of your EHR investment

When calculating the cost of a new EHR, or working out its expected ROI, it is essential to include all the areas of financial obligation to the practice. This does not simply include the upfront cost of purchasing and maintaining the system, but also includes many hidden costs that can be easily overlooked. Here is a compilation of costs that should be included and considered in your EHR ROI analysis.  

Expected EHR costs include:

Purchase price

The purchase price will be determined by the EHR vendor. There may be an initial cost to acquire the system, and then there will likely be ongoing costs for continued use. Many systems base their fees on the number of users and clinicians using the EHR. Make sure both you and the vendor are clear on these costs before investing

Licensing and operational fees

In order to continue using the EHR system, there is typically ongoing operational fees. Again, this information should be clearly defined by the vendor.

Recommended reading: find EHR vendors with products in your price range with our EHR vendor directory

Training costs (initial and ongoing)

If the vendor charges anything for training your practice staff to use the system, this must be factored into your EHR’s cost. Additionally, there should be clearly outlined fees for ongoing training or web portals into troubleshooting tasks.

Technology and equipment

The practice must consider the cost of hardware and servers. The ROI analysis should include the cost of the devices that will be used, such as new desktop computers, tablets, laptops, printers, and scanners. Additionally, consider the cost of any networking and internet services that the practice will need to run the EHR system.

Hidden EHR costs can include:

Lost productivity

During the implementation, there may be a change in workflow and there will definitely be more time constraints for both the clinical and operational staff. All personnel will need training time and time to learn the system during operational implementation. These factors will decrease their productivity, costing the practice more money.

Lost patients

Although this should be avoided, the practice must realize that they may lose a small number of patients in the transition to a new EHR system. Some individuals won’t  understand that a practice that is undergoing major software changes, and may lose patience and leave the practice as a result.

Decreased patient visits

During implementation, the clinical staff will likely require additional time to complete patient visits and encounter notes. Therefore, the practice will see fewer  patients in a given day. This will likely continue for several weeks or months, until the staff are more comfortable with the new system.

Ongoing maintenance for servers/network security

Due to privacy regulations, it is imperative that the IT department ensures optimal security in the network servers. This heightened security and ongoing monitoring and maintenance may bring about additional costs.

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Amy Vant

About the author…

Amy Vant is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical director for an outpatient physical therapy clinic in the United States. She has experience utilizing and implementing many forms of medical documentation through various healthcare practice venues. Amy enjoys writing about healthcare administration strategies, including electronic health record systems.

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Amy Vant