Expected benefits and ROI of EHR
When deciding whether to invest in an EHR, a practice can rely on two tools to analyze the case for EHR investment: ROI and CBA. ROI is a calculation of the most tangible financial gains or benefits that can be expected from a project versus the costs for implementing the suggested program or solution. Whereas an EHR cost benefit analysis (CBA) is more comprehensive than ROI and attempts to quantify both tangible and intangible costs and benefits. Whether a practice chooses to use an EHR systems benefit analysis or rely on an ROI (or both methods) it is important to view all the direct and indirect costs that can impact the EHR investment decision and decide accordingly.
When calculating the ROI or a CBA for EHR investment it is important to understand and fully explain quantifiable and non-quantifiable benefits that the EHR system will bring to the medical practice.
Quantifiable benefits include:
Increased revenue: this is typically due to more accurate medical coding and billing. The more accurate the billing, the more likely the practice will be properly reimbursed for their services.
Increased provider productivity: because the EHR system allows the clinician to streamline visit notes, physician orders, follow-ups, and billing, the provider is able to be more productive. Most of the encounter notes can be completed during the point of care, which increases productivity and ensures accuracy in documentation.
Improved operational efficiency: EHR systems improve operations of a medical practice. This decreases the need for operational personnel, lowering overhead. Most EHR systems streamline scheduling, billing, and communications, which greatly improves operations.
Non-quantifiable benefits include:
Improved job satisfaction for clinicians and staff: once staff feel comfortable with the EHR system, their job duties should be more streamlined. There will be less duplication of work and less need for tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on patient care. This will lead to greater job satisfaction, improving retention rate and practice morale.
Improved patient satisfaction: patients can tell when their medical practice runs professionally and efficiently. Patients will be more satisfied and more likely to remain a patient in the practice.
Improved patient outcomes: EHR systems provide tools for screenings, medication interactions, best practice treatment plans and means for communication with their providers. These tools lead to improved patient outcomes and better patient care.
One of the major obstacles healthcare organizations face when deciding to invest in EHR technology involves accurately modeling costs. Accordingly, when making the case to justify the cost of an EHR investment it is important to use an analysis that features the total cost of ownership in the short-term and long-term so that decision makers can be fully apprised of EHR-related costs.
One of the most comprehensive and efficient measures for modeling long-term costs involves calculating the total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO is best defined as a full assessment of information technology and services costs over time. EHR TCO represents an accounting of all costs (both short term and long term, and direct and indirect) in order to create an accurate picture of the cost of operating an EHR and not merely purchasing the system.
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