How to Keep From Going Broke With EHR
There’s no doubt that implementing EHR into your hospital or clinic can be expensive. Those with successful implementations will recoup those costs over the next few years, but those offices with unsuccessful implementations can lose enormous amounts of money. Even some small clinics have had to go out of business due to unsuccessful EHR implementations.
So, how can you control costs for your EHR implementation and ensure its success?
There are several tips and strategies you can use.
1. Negotiate Your User Agreements
Most vendors will have several different pricing structures for you to choose from. Typically, this depends on how many physicians, nurses and staff members will be using the system.
Almost all EHR vendors will negotiate licensing fees. If you have physicians and nurses who timeshare at your clinic or hospital, then use this as a bargaining chip to get a lower rate.
You could also save by joining forces with other clinics or groups to get a group discount.
2. Hire An Attorney
Yes, attorneys are expensive. But it will be far more expensive if you decide to cancel your contract six months from now and discover that there are numerous “cancellation fees” in your contract that you didn’t know about.
Hire an attorney to look over your EHR contract. They’ll make you aware of any fees or other surprises that might be hidden in there.
3. Look At Your Hardware Needs
Many EHR vendors will include a “hardware package” into the contract. This includes servers, handhelds, computers, screens, computers on wheels, etc.
You might be able to save significantly by shopping around. Get a list of hardware requirements from your vendor, and give that list to your IT staff. Ask them to shop around and collect prices from third-party hardware vendors and wholesalers. Sometimes EHR vendors will inflate costs on hardware to improve their profits, but you can eliminate this by shopping elsewhere for your hardware needs.
If you do use a third party for your hardware, make sure you can return any items you won’t need. If you can, push for a 90-day return policy. This will give you ample time to determine what you will, and won’t use.
It’s also vital that you’re clear about what the wholesaler means by “installation”. This is an ambiguous term that can add significantly to your costs if you’re not clear on exactly what they do. Make sure you ask them about installation, and exactly what it entails, before you purchase anything.
Many times, wholesalers will include hardware training as an optional “extra charge”. Usually this is worth the money! You’ll save time and money in the long run by getting properly trained on the equipment you’ll be using. Before signing up for this service, however, check with your EHR vendor. They might include training on hardware as well, so it’s important to check with them first.
4. Negotiate Your Implementation Costs
When it comes to the implementation itself, reputable EHR vendors will be there for you. Yes, you’re going to need hand-holding and support during this phase. So make sure you use it!
EHR vendors will assign a project manager to your hospital or clinic. If you have a large-scale implementation, then you’ll likely get more than one.
You can usually choose from hourly contracts to monthly contracts. Monthly contracts are usually a better value than hourly contracts. For a small clinic, with 3-5 physicians, expect to see a project total of 300-500 hours.
Remember, though, that you can negotiate these costs with the vendor. Stick to your guns and work with them on getting an implementation cost that’s fair to both parties.
EHR implementation doesn’t have to be a headache of spiraling costs. Choose a reputable EHR vendor, even if they bid higher than others. Get testimonials and referrals to make sure they won’t cut and run after implementation (yes, this occasionally happens). And don’t be afraid to negotiate!