A step-by-step guide to comparing EHR costs
Selecting, implementing and integrating a new EHR system into a medical practice comes with a large price tag. Therefore, it is essential that the practice plans for this financial strain and projects how long it will take to recoup the investment. Here are some steps to comparing EHR costs in order to get the most from your investment:
1. Compare initial EHR costs
Many vendors will charge an upfront fee for purchasing the right to use their EHR system. This upfront cost may include training for implementation or this may be a separate expense. Also, determine if this initial EHR price includes all features and modules that your practice will be using. Some vendors will charge one price for the basic system and then add on other features ‘a la carte’ such as a scheduling module, patient portal or laboratory interface. It is important to understand what exactly you are purchasing the rights to use.
2. Compare EHR training costs
Regardless of which system you choose, cost of EHR training means that there will be lost revenue in the time that clinicians and office staff need for training. This will include time for payroll during training and lost revenue due to not being able to see patients during the training time. Look at what type of training is offered from each vendor. Does the vendor charge additional costs for training your employees? Do they offer re-training visits or online modules for further training?
3. Calculate ongoing fees for continued use
Depending on the vendor, there will be ongoing fees for using the system. This may come as a monthly fee per provider on staff, or it may be a set fee for the entire practice regardless of how many users. The cost of ongoing use of the EHR system will play a huge role in the overall price tag. Other ongoing fees can include hardware upgrades, network upgrades, and vendor support fees. These should be outlined and identified before choosing a system.
4. Create a revenue forecast
Besides for meeting requirements for Meaningful Use, most EHR systems will help improve revenue with increased clinician productivity, improved billing practices and more streamlined practice operations. Analyze how each vendor will help to increase revenue. This may include features such as automated scheduling, billing reconciliation and automated billing from clinician encounter note.
5. Work out potential ROI for the practice
It is important to thoroughly analyze EHR costs from early selection activities through to implementation of a new system, and the value that it will add to the practice. Avoid choosing a system simply because it is the cheapest option. Oftentimes the cheapest option will not offer all the components necessary for smooth operation of a practice. Value includes high patient satisfaction to ensure maintaining patients and to build the practice. Value also includes employee satisfaction. An effective EHR system can help to keep job satisfaction high and reduce clinician turnover.
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