EHR Costs: How to Set the Right Budget for Your Organization

EHR Costs: How to Set the Right Budget

An electronic health record (EHR) system is more than just another piece of technology. It makes information available instantly and securely to all who need it, which can be revolutionary for a healthcare organization like yours under the right circumstances.

By making your practice more efficient than ever, the right EHR will also dramatically help improve patient care. This in turn increases revenue, which generates more money that can be funneled back into your organization for growth and improvement. It’s an investment that quickly begins to build its own momentum in the best possible way.

According to one recent study, the global electronic health record market is expected to hit a massive $41.87 billion by as soon as 2033. That’s a compound annual growth rate of approximately 5.1% over the next decade. Right now, about 64.4% of all office-based doctors in the United States use an EHR system of some kind.

All it takes is one quick look at the short-term benefits to see why this has become so popular in such a short amount of time.

Of course, all this demands the question – how do you properly budget for such a crucial investment? After all, the chasm between a “low-cost EHR” and “the right EHR” is a deep one, indeed.

You don’t want to end up with something that holds you back. You want a true solution that drives you and your people forward.

Thankfully, getting to that point isn’t necessarily difficult. It will require you to keep a few important things in mind about EHR optimization and the EHR implementation cost breakdown along the way.

What is the Cost of the Top EMR/EHR Software Implementation?

According to one recent study, the average cost of the four-month planning period, all the way through the first year of use of an EHR system, is approximately $233,297 for a five-physician practice. That breaks down to roughly $46,659 per physician.

Naturally, this number is going to vary wildly depending on the specific EHR system you choose, the partner you work with, and other factors. The licensing model will play a big role in how much you pay. There may also be per-user and per-facility fees that will vary.

An Essential Context: The Secret of the Average Cost of EHR System Options

It’s also important to note that these numbers include a lot of indirect costs like EHR training and other staffing-related costs. Not only are many of these essentially one-time costs, but don’t forget that the system will likely pay for itself through efficiency and revenue gains before you know it.

How Much Does EHR Maintenance Cost?

EHR Software maintenance is a long-term cost you’ll certainly need to be aware of when budgeting. EHRs are primarily software-based. This means that for EHR optimization, as well as addressing bugs and adding new features, they will constantly need to be maintained and upgraded.

Some estimate the average cost of maintenance and EHR optimization at roughly $1,500 per physician per month. This is why some inexpensive EMR options may not end up being quite as “low-cost” as they initially appear.

EHR Cost breakdown

EHR Cost Breakdown

Keep in mind that even when it comes to EHR implementation, costs are often broken down into far more granular detail than people anticipate.

Take implementation support, for example. You’re not just paying one lump sum of money to essentially have someone “install and set up” an EHR system for your practice. You need to pay for:

  • Project Management.
  • System Configuration.
  • Data Migration.
  • Training.
  • Go-Live Support.

All these costs have hourly rates associated with them. This means that the longer the process takes, the more you’ll pay for implementation support.

This is all why it’s so important to dive beneath the numbers when looking at your EHR cost breakdown. You need to understand what you’re getting and why it’s so important to spend your money in the wisest way possible.

Types of EHR Costs

Overall, the costs of investing in an HIPAA Complaint EHR system can be broken down into a few distinct categories:

  • Direct costs are those that include things like the initial setup fees, as well as ongoing maintenance. This will be the most expensive part of your investment. However, when you consider the efficiency and revenue gains, you’ll likely enjoy, the system will probably pay for itself far faster than you think.
  • Indirect costs are those that include things like training. You’ll not only need to train all your existing users on how to get the most from the EHR, but you’ll also need to train any new hires as well.
  • Hidden costs can include certain essential costs that you might not initially expect, but that are required nonetheless. This would include any implementation fees that are charged by your partner of choice, for example. Integration fees would also fall under this category, which would be that which you need to spend to get your EHR working with your existing IT infrastructure.

How to Keep EHR Maintenance Costs Down

One major way to keep EHR maintenance costs down involves selecting only the features you need from the solution you’ve chosen. Options like PrognoCIS are heavily customizable. It’s very unlikely that there is a practice that would need absolutely everything we have to offer.

By selecting only those features and functions you need, you wind up with an optimized solution that is built for you in mind. It’s also easier to train people to use and far easier to maintain, which translates to long-term cost savings as well.

Other ways to keep EHR maintenance costs down include: 

  • Choosing a subscription-based model, as you would with PrognoCIS. Rather than dealing with a lot of often predictable costs as you would with a traditional deployment, you exchange everything for a fixed monthly fee.
  • Collaborate with an experienced provider. At PrognoCIS, we take the time to learn as much about your practice – and your patients – as possible. That way, we can offer you something out of the gate that is optimized in a way that cuts down on long-term maintenance requirements as much as possible.

Costs of Popular EHRs

When looking at the costs of most common EHRs, it’s important to dive beneath the initial figures to see what you’re getting.

Fully cloud-based solutions are typically less expensive by nature, since there are no on-premise systems to set up and maintain. Something with an ongoing subscription fee may initially seem cheaper than something with a perpetual license, but you may end up spending more money over time.

All told the typical cost of a popular EHR system ranges from $150 to $800 per user per month. But again – it all depends on what you’re getting and what value you see in return.

  • Saving money and spending $150 per user per month may seem like a good idea, but if you’re not getting at least an equal amount of value it really isn’t.
  • Likewise, that $800 per user per month fee may seem expensive, but it’s not if you’re getting twice the amount of value.

At PrognoCIS, our pricing starts at $280 per month, although that can potentially increase depending on exactly which features you need.

Key Benefits of EHR Implementation

A few of the major benefits that you get from the proper EHR implementation include but are not limited to ones like:

  • Significantly reduced paperwork: All staff members will have fast, easy access to the essential patient data they need to do their jobs. They don’t have to spend time finding paper charts. The amount of time it takes to perform administrative tasks like processing billing requests or filling out forms is dramatically reduced.
  • Improved and optimized practice management: Everything – from progress notes to coding to appointments – are all handled in one straightforward system. Everything is organized to the point where you spend less time looking for information and can devote more of your attention to acting on it.
  • Empowered communication and collaboration: Because everything is stored in a centralized database, information is always where it needs to be – no exceptions. This means that not only is information more available, but it’s also easy to share as well. Getting information from laboratories or to other providers happens almost instantaneously.

Again, think of an EHR as a way to free up as much of your valuable time as possible so that you can focus on the most important thing of all: your patients. They get better care, which leads to better outcomes and better experiences. You get more patients, thus generating more revenue.

Budgeting for EHR Implementation: Steps to Help Build an Accurate EHR System Budget

When building an accurate EHR system budget, you need to break things down into a series of smaller and more manageable chunks. That is to say, don’t just look for one all-encompassing number. Examine each element of an EHR system separately to get a more accurate idea of what you’re really dealing with.

  1. Start by examining the costs of any hardware you’ll need for EHR implementation, assuming you’re not going entirely cloud-based. That includes the cost of servers, computers, printers, scanners, and related assets.
  2. Next, move onto the EHR software itself. Include any upgrades or additional features you might explore. Again, at PrognoCIS our prices start at $280 per month.
  3. Don’t forget about any assistance you’ll need during the implementation phase. Consider costs related to legal support, IT contractors, system maintenance providers, and more.
  4. You’ll also need to budget for costs as they pertain to training your clinical and office support staff. If you want to get the most out of your EHR investment, people need to understand exactly how to use it for the best results.
  5. Finally, factor in costs pertaining to anything unexpected that might happen. Consider temporary productivity losses, revenue disruptions, or patient-related issues that might happen during the transitional period.

At Bizmatics, Inc., we pride ourselves on being so much more than just another medical office software provider. We’re a true partner in every sense of the term. We understand exactly how impactful the right EHR can be for your organization. This is why we want to help you enjoy all the benefits of this process with as few of the potential downsides as possible.

Because of that, you need to look for more than just a low-cost EHR. Even the average cost of EHR system solutions doesn’t tell the entire story. What you need is something built with your specific organization in mind. One that supports and empowers your people. That’s what we’ve always worked to provide with PrognoCIS, and we can’t wait for the opportunity to do the same for you, too.

If you’d like to find out more information about setting the proper budget for your EHR optimization and implementation, or if you’d just like to discuss your own needs with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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