Implementing an EMR is quite similar to buying a car. The sticker price might be $12,000, but once tags, insurance, warranties and other incidentals are added, it’ll take at least $16,000 to get it out of the lot. And it will take more than $30,000 over the next five years to keep it on the road.
Similarly, many practices think the price quoted to them by their electronic medical records (EMR) vendor is the total amount that EMR implementation is going to cost the practice. And then reality sets in. However, several practices are discovering that cloud-based systems, which eliminate the substantial cost of installing and maintaining on-site servers in the office, can be less expensive. But analysts suggest that even those require careful consideration based on cost and necessitate that a practice set a budget before signing a contract. With cloud-based systems, the budgeting is not just about up-front cost; it is the cost incurred over the next few years which needs to be properly allocated.
For the purpose of choosing a suitable EMR solution, many practices hire consultants to help them through the selection process or request-for-proposal processes. The consultants also guide the practices through the rest of the budgeting tasks.
With cloud-based EMRs, a practice is wholly dependent upon their internet connection. Practices should choose their local broadband service not just on the cheapest price, but for the most reliable service. They may want to consider implementing multiple broadband connections; one DSL, one cable so there is a backup if one goes down.
Additionally, prior to the implementation of an EMR system, clear objectives should be established, and practices need to determine the future costs of meeting them. Practices wishing to qualify for meaningful use incentives, for example, eventually may participate in a health information exchange that requires new software applications or even membership fees. The lifespan of existing hardware would also need to be considered. Most desktop computers become obsolete every three to five years.
In a nutshell, the primary focus while establishing an EMR budget should not just be about reducing costs and saving time, but improving the overall quality and safety of healthcare delivery. Physicians have a lot to consider but when objectives, expectations and possibilities are clearly identified beforehand, the process of selection is a lot more simplistic.