Some Hidden Costs to EHR Implementation

Without a doubt, implementing an EHR system is incredibly expensive, whether you’re a large hospital or a small clinic.

However, clinics and hospitals find that as they get closer to implementation and GoLive, costs keep going up. There are also some additional costs that seem to pop up out of nowhere, even after GoLive has taken place.

Learning about some of the extra costs to EHR can help you and your clinic budget more effectively. So what should you look out for?

1. Fax Machines and Scanners

Often, your current fax machine and scanner won’t work with the new system, especially if they’re older models. If you have to upgrade, plan on spending an extra $1,000 for an EHR-capable scanner, and $200-$400 for a fax machine.

2. Additional Desktop Workstations

You might already be using desktop workstations that will work with your new EHR system. However, you might need to add additional workstations to accommodate staff who will need to access the system.

For each additional workstation, plan on spending around $2,000. However, if you need laptops or tablets, you’re going to spend between $2,000-$4,000 for each device.

3. Training

Although the cost of the trainer will likely be included in your EHR package, what you need to consider is how much you’re going to spend in lost labor and lost revenue.

For instance, imagine you have 5 staff members who’ll need 10 hours of training, and they’re earning $25/hr. That’s $1,250.

Plus, you’re going to need to reduce your patient load during the first week or two of GoLive. Most experts recommend that clinics decrease their patient load by 25%-50% the first week. This is a significant revenue loss that should be accounted for in your overall EHR costs.

4. Workforce Adjustment

Although EHR often helps clinics reduce their dependence on staff, sometimes larger clinics or hospitals end up hiring additional staff members, especially on the IT side, to help support their new EHR system.

Even if you end up reducing your staff load, there will be short term costs such as a severance package or health benefits that you’ll want to account for as well.

5. Paper Shredding

Once your EHR system is up and running smoothly, you’re going to be able to shred all those paper charts. Yes, you’re going to have all that extra space, and most of your staff will likely feel like cheering!

However, shredding takes time. And, you’re going to have to pay someone to scan, and then safely shred and dispose of all those documents. This is a cost many hospitals and clinics forget to add in to their budgets.

6. Additional Employee Meetings

Keeping everyone in the loop about how the EHR implementation is going, and any system updates, means that you’ll likely need to hold additional employee meetings, at least in the beginning. This is more time your team will spend away from their tasks and patients, which will further lower their productivity in the beginning.

7. Undertraining

Many clinics try to save money on their training because it can get pretty expensive. But, training is not an area where you want to cut corners on.

If your staff receives too little training before GoLive, the first week could be a real disaster. Productivity could fall off a cliff, and you’ll end up losing far more money than if you’d just spent the correct amount making sure everyone is properly trained.

Make sure you don’t make the mistake of spending too little on team training; undertrained staff could lose your clinic money for months.

3 thoughts on “Some Hidden Costs to EHR Implementation

  1. EHRDoc says:

    While I do admit that the switch is incredibly expensive, I believe that it is completely worth the money. I recently made the change from paper to electronic and I have been shocked by the benefits my practice has already experienced. I have learned that it is important to find a company that will guide both you and your staff members through the change. I chose a small company called TNEHR and I would recommend them to any doctor who is wanting to make the switch.

    • itsjay2010 says:

      Absolutely agree that the switch is expensive and worth it. Success is dependent on so many factors that it is sometimes advantageous to use an outside company to assist in the process such as TNEHR, although I must admit I am not familiar with them specifically. I do believe that if you negotiate your contract with your EHR vendor, you can put some SLA’s (Service level agreements) in place to make the vendor live up to your expectations.

  2. […] there are many benefits to EHR, as well as many hidden costs to EHR, there are plenty of ways you can save money on your new […]

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