Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

According to a Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption study referenced by CMS on average EHR adoption costs $58,000 per provider over 5 years.

Fortunately for most providers, the referenced study is several years old, and since that time, cloud-based EHRs and competition have driven costs down.

Ironically, now some providers are faced with the opposite dilemma – a seemingly really cheap EHR.  While a cheap EHR may seem initially attractive, before taking that leap, make sure you’ve considered all your cost/revenue factors, such as:

  • Provider’s time – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US physician makes $89 per hour.  If an EHR is hard to use and requires just 10 minutes more per day to use, that’s 200 minutes over the course of a month – costing you more than $300 a month more than an easier to use EHR.
  • Staff time and efficiency – similarly, an EHR that requires extra staff time is costing your practice.  This is time the staff could spend on more productive endeavors and/or it will cost you over time. At it’s worst a poorly designed EHR will frustrate your staff enough that they may seek other employment.  When evaluating EHR impact on your staff look at things like duplicate data entry requirements and EHR support – can you call the EHR vendor and talk with a live US-Based expert without being put on hold for an extended period?
  • Coding accuracy – a good EHR will help ensure visit level codes are accurate.  Under-coding just 1-2 visits per week will result in hundreds of dollars in lost revenue each month.

In addition to the total impact to the bottom line, providers should also look for other hidden costs of seemingly low-cost EHRs:

  • High-cost additional fees such as E-prescribing, Eligibility Checks, Clearinghouse Fees, Customization Services, Training, and Electronic Claims.
  • Potential for large annual fee increases.
  • A vendor that’s building a customer base for resale (similar to what happened with Practice Fusion).