National EMR adoption could cost $150B

How much will it cost to roll out and fully implement EMRs in all U.S. physicians' offices and hospitals? A whopping $150 billion spread over the next eight years, according to one health economics professor. The professor, Robert Miller, of the University of California, San Francisco, actually considers the sum to be "manageable," given that it accounts for less than 1 percent increase per year in total U.S. healthcare spending.

Miller, who made his remarks at an Institute of Medicine workshop on the subject held last week, projects that hospitals are likely to spend $35 billion to buy and expand EMR systems, plus $55 billion on operating costs. In his view, large hospitals with the most beds are likely to be able to afford EMRs, but public and smaller hospitals--as well as troubled for-profits--may fall behind in the EMR arms race.

Meanwhile, the 96-odd percent of medical practices without EMRs would need to lay out about $15 billion in capital to acquire them, plus $24 billion to operate them over the next eight years, Miller says. Then there's $20 billion that should be spent for EMRs in nursing homes and other medical professional settings, Miller suggests.

To learn more about Miller's conclusions:
- read this Government Health IT piece

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