Practice outlines real-time costs of installing EHRs

While there is no doubt that it will take much time and money to install electronic health records (EHRs) in physicians' offices, the question remains: How much will it all ultimately cost? A new analysis from the March Health Affairs from a primary-care practice in North Texas provides ideas about average costs.

The HealthTexas practice, affiliated with Baylor Health Care system, estimated that the total cost for implementation through the first 60 days after launch was $162,047 for a five-physician practice--with an average per physician total cost of $32,409. When adding in maintenance, the costs go up: Baylor researchers--looking for the whole first year after launch--estimated the total costs through the first year to be $233,297, with an average per physician cost of $46,659.

The HealthTexas network implementation team spent 468.5 hours before the EHR system was launched at a practice; an additional 12 hours were needed during the first 60 days after the launch, for a total of 480.5 hours--or $28,025 per practice.

The Baylor researchers estimated that based on the HealthTexas average of 3.3 staff members per physician, a total of 134.2 hours and $10,325 were expended per physician for EHR implementation.

Overall, the results should be encouraging to physician practices that have yet to implement EHR systems, the researchers said. They are considerably lower than those in the recent CDW Healthcare Physician Practice EHR Price Tag study, which estimated the total cost--including outlay plus lost revenue--at approximately $120,000 per physician in the first year after implementation. The annual recurring were estimated with costs of $30,000 per physician.

For more details:
- see the Health Affairs abstract

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