4 steps to purchasing EHR on a budget
Selecting and implementing an EHR system can be very costly to a practice or hospital. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, a practice can expect to spend between $15,000 and $70,000 per provider for purchasing and implementing an EHR system. The large cost variable typically depends on practice requirements, delivery platform and payment model. With such a financial investment, it is important to take strategic steps to prevent EHR budget overruns over the course of a system transition.
1. Analyze your current hardware and networking architecture
Before investing in new networking capabilities or hardware, you should first analyze what your practice already owns. The best way to ensure your EHR budget does not overrun is to find ways to decrease the cost of implementation and integration; there will always be unexpected costs somewhere along the line.
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Even if your practice is transitioning from a paper charting system, it is likely the practice already has some basic networking and hardware architecture in place. As long as these items are still functioning properly and up to date, it is likely that they will work when implementing a new EHR system. There will be no need to go purchase new workstations and computers, saving the practice a lot of money.
2. Perform a thorough analysis of vendor fees
Unfortunately, EHR systems can come with hidden fees and charges, depending on what features are utilized and what customer service needs are provided. It is essential to thoroughly analyze what contract you are committing to and ensure the total cost of all services will not exceed your EHR budget.
According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, a practice can expect to spend between $15,000 and $70,000 per provider
For example, you do not want to be charged every time a clinician utilizes their customer support if this is your first EHR system. In addition, you should only pay for services that your practice is utilizing. Analyze the services offered, and only pay for what you need.
3. Utilize state and federal assistance and support
Before implementing EHR into your practice, you should look into financial assistance from all available sources. Grants can be a great source of funding if your organization is able to obtain one. There are governmental grants that can be obtained through many agencies including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as the Health Resources and Services Administration. Additionally, look for deferred payment plans from vendors or cost sharing group purchase options.
4. Internal health IT support staff
One way practices commonly exceed budgets is through outsourcing IT implementation or paying to utilize IT support staff from the vendor, with additional costs each time. It can be wise to invest in training for your existing IT personnel or to hire health IT personnel for the practice. These employees can help with ongoing EHR updates, server requirements and networking operation.
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