6 Aspects Impacting Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Costs

Automation in electronic medical records (EMR) ensures fewer medical errors, thereby enhancing chances of better care and patient outcome. Real-time access to test results through EMRs has made it easier for healthcare providers to offer better diagnosis of diseases, which in turn augments patient satisfaction and experience.

EMRs are a cornerstone for healthcare facilities, therefore all of them are aiming to install patient-centric EMR systems at medical facilities. The business benefits of EHR software development far outweigh the costs. On an average, electronic medical records (EMR) cost can range from $15,000 to $70,000 per EMR vendor.

The costs of developing a custom EMR software is higher and depends upon the variables involved in the development plan such as the features you plan to incorporate, the timeline of development, and whether you are planning to develop an MVP or a full fledged, feature-rich EMR software from the get-go.

Thus, to obtain an EMR software that helps to offer best possible care, it is essential to have a budget in place. Consider evaluating through the following aspects to get an electronic medical records system.

6 Aspects Impacting EMR Costs

1. Cloud Vs. On-Premise EMR

Start-up costs for cloud-based EMR is minimal as compared to on-premise electronic medical records costs. Healthcare practitioners can purchase a cloud system through monthly subscription, and EMR vendor is responsible for hosting servers, security, maintenance, etc., which saves a lot of money for healthcare facilities.

On the other hand, medical facilities need to pay extra for server, hosting, hardware, and other equipment for on-premise EMR, along with licenses and security systems.

For practitioners and care facilities who like to plan ahead, developing a cloud-based EMR system provides greatest consistency in the form of fixed subscription fees and pay-per-provider, hence there’s little room for surprise bills. This helps to plan finances ahead of time, and with the money saved offers scope for more renovations in the care quality.

This isn’t the case for on-premise, as electronic medical records costs depends on maintenance, support, staff hired, and more around the year, thereby making expenses unpredictable.

Moving on, cloud-based EMR offers greater scalability as compared to on-premise, as practitioners can request vendors to add features as per user demands.

2. Pricing Models

a. Pay Per Provider

Pay per provider price model includes a monthly or annual fee that’s charged to a healthcare practitioner or a medical facility. Along with this, one time training and installation charges are included as well.

Healthcare facilities can opt for both EMR and medical billing software, if an outsourced software development company such as Arkenea is offering both; this saves additional expenses needed for medical billing.

b. One Time License Fee

EMR vendors offer one-time license fee for using their product, and then charge a monthly fee for their IT maintenance and support.

This pricing model is beneficial for large healthcare organizations, with millions of health data in their system. Further, one time license fee model is expensive as its fees consists of extensive training and on-site data server installations.

It also involves incorporation of data storage and processing systems on-site, thus giving healthcare facilities more freedom to handle their needs accordingly.

3. EMR Customization

EMR customization cost depends on software features, integrations, functionalities, and mode of deployment – on-premise or cloud. Customization is recommended for healthcare organizations as it helps to develop an EMR solution that caters perfectly to organizations’ needs.

Further, a customized EMR ensures workflow automation and cuts down manual administrative tasks. Customized features such as patient billing makes it easier for patients to fill out medical forms prior to appointment and access health data whenever needed.

Customization requires higher investment value, but the type of features and security it offers helps in providing quality care to patients. Features such as appointment scheduling, medical billing, reminders, access to ePHI (Protected Health Information), and more enhances patient satisfaction and overall experience.

According to a report by Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM), EHR system customization helps to streamline incorporation of the PCMH (Patient-centered Medical Home) model. PCMHs are designed to bolster patient outcomes and health for both population and at an individual level, all while ameliorating patient experience and healthcare organization expenses.

In order to achieve this goal, EHR software, data analytics, and data exchange tools were enabled by PCMHs. As per researchers, EHR customization proved to be fruitful in overcoming barriers to PCMH implementation.

4. Staff Training

Medical, non-medical, and administrative staff need to know how systems work, regardless of using new software or migrating from one system to another.

At times, training maybe provided by the EMR software vendor, depending on the complexity of the system. Medical facilities can save money on training by viewing material online. However, training guarantees that staff understands new EMR system, and have the confidence to use it well. This significantly increases productivity as well.

Further, training costs depends on the type of strategies used, for instance there’s a vast difference training expenses for a server-based in-house system versus a SaaS cloud-based system. Techniques such as group vs. individual training, or a combination of both, timelines for training, and methods such as web-based or classroom learning impacts training prices drastically.

Consider braking down cost elements affecting EMR staff training to build a budget, and obtain training packages from EMR vendors. Travel expenses for trainers and trainees, overtime and downtime costs for these individuals are included as a part of training budget.

Indirect costs such as temporary staff to fill in the gaps where staff will be training for electronic medical records need to be considered as well.

5. Hidden or Indirect Costs

Two important indirect cost considerations include time used to select an EMR software and the time staff take for implementing their duties. Other hidden and indirect costs include decreased productivity due to time spend on learning a new system, and short hospital or clinic working hours prior to system incorporation.

Additionally, IT contractors may charge for assistance during EMR installation and customization of electronic medical records take up a substantial amount of money too.

Alterations to all third-party software integrations such as telehealth functions, patient portals, e-prescribing, population health management, state health departments, etc. fall under indirect expenses. Apart from this, data migration to a new system takes up time and money, along with redesigning workflow of novel EMR software.

6. Maintenance and Installation

Maintenance of EMR software and patient data is a crucial aspect, even a top EMR technology can be affected, hence a robust maintenance system is required to ensure smooth functioning of a care facility.

Damage or malfunction of an EMR software puts all operations on hold, and may even risk lives of patients in the ED, whose records are monitored closely. Therefore, consider regular updates and checks of EMR software.

Further, five components to note while installing EMR and determining its expenses are hardware, implementation assistance, EMR/EHR software, ongoing network fees and maintenance, and training.

Arkenea has over 12 years of experience in the healthcare software development, and contributes towards creating robust EMR/EHR systems for care facilities and clinics.