Small physician practices that have yet to adopt electronic health records are overly concerned with EHR software and hardware costs, according to a recent EHR cost survey by IT supplier CDW LLC.
The survey of 200 ambulatory clinics found that the primary concern of nearly two-thirds of physicians is the hardware and software costs associated with an EHR implementation. That’s all well and good, but those EHR costs account for only about 12% of the approximately $120,000 per physician that a small office can expect to shell out in the first year of an EHR implementation, CDW notes. (Additional costs come from staff training and infrastructure needs, such as networking and security. Most offices can get by with the clients and servers they have, CDW points out.)
Revenue loss should be a bigger concern, CDW suggests in its press release about the survey. Respondents expected patient encounters to drop 10% in the first year their practice used EHR. That amounts to $100,000 in lost revenue, which obviously pales in comparison to the actual cost of EHR software. Moreover, two in five respondents expected patient encounters to decrease 25%. Yet fewer than one-third of respondents deemed loss of revenue to be a primary concern.
Part of the reason may be that once EHR software is up and running, clinics can expect a productivity gain of 15%, which translates to more than $150,000 per physician in yearly revenue.
That, however, depends first, on choosing EHR software — which only 26% of survey respondents have actually done — then on implementing EHR successfully — which must occur before 2015 to meet the deadlines set in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, or HITECH Act. Of course, those EHR incentives add up to only $44,000 per physician.
That’s not enough to cover what CDW deems the initial costs of EHR implementation, but it’s more than enough to cover the expected cost of EHR software — and it should be more than enough to assuage physicians’ fears that the hardware and software will be too expensive for their practices.