You’ve likely already heard that the cost of EHR is pretty steep. I know that’s stating the obvious, but many doctors and hospital administrators don’t realize that according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the average cost to install an EHR system is over $37,000 per FTE physician.
Although 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 system.
1. Join a Group
Some smaller clinics have discovered that if they band together and all purchase the same system, they receive more discounts from vendors. This can be a challenging way to save, since it means you have to ally yourself with other clinics, however, joining a purchasing group can make it worth the extra time.
2. Check with REC
If you’re a primary care provider, you can ask your local REC if you’re eligible for preferred pricing. If you’re not primary care, you could still ask your local REC if you could apply for this preferred pricing anyway. After all, all they can say is “no”!
3. Look at Return Times
Many providers don’t spend much time looking at their return time frame. However, this can be an important way to save money on your EHR system if you’re not happy with it. Try to negotiate a 60-120 day return time frame; this way you and your staff can use the system fully, and decide for sure whether or not you want to keep it. If you don’t, you have plenty of time to return it penalty-free.
4. Join a Hardware Group
Even if you don’t want to join up with other clinics for your EHR system, you could still join with them to purchase your hardware in bulk. This is an easier way to save money with bulk purchasing power.
5. Use an Electronic Fax Service with Dedicated Fax Email
Fax machines are a necessary evil in all practices. You have to pay for a quality machine, and then there are ongoing costs for ink, paper, and machine service.
However, you can save by using an e-fax service; for 2,000 pages per month, you’ll pay around $35-$40. And, you never have to worry about your machine breaking down. They’re best used to download and attach a patient’s old medical records to their new file; this includes any new studies or lab reports that are relevant as well.
6. Renegotiate Upgrades
There are always going to be upgrades with EHR. And, these upgrades can be costly over the long term. You can save money by working these upgrades into your upfront fee; try to get the next several upgrades included in your current pricing. A few years from now, you’ll be glad you did.
7. Barter with Your Internet Service
Many physicians and clinics forget that they can have the power to renegotiate their internet services. For instance, if you call and let them know you found a better offer with their competition, you might be surprised at how fast they start lowering your monthly rate.
Renegotiate a multi-year contract with your Internet provider and you’ll save even more. You might also want to consider asking them to include additional support services; these can be invaluable when your clinic is experiencing problems.
EHR is never going to be cheap. However, with a bit of advance prep there are plenty of ways you can save your clinic money and lessen your financial investment in this valuable service.