Purchasing and integrating an electronic medical record (EMR) / electronic health record (EHR) system into your practice workflow can be costly. However, the benefits of EMR systems can be worth the financial investment and may even help your practice save money in the long run. Besides the initial EHR / EMR costs, there are hardware, implementation, training, and maintenance costs to consider when purchasing a new system.

EMR Costs.

EMR costs can vary widely from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Some systems are subscription based and charge monthly fees instead of an upfront cost. Additionally, some EMR systems are completely free to use or only charge for additional services.

It is important to choose the right EMR system for your practice based on a cost-benefit analysis. While it is financially favorable to go with a less expensive or free EMR software, that software may not be suitable for your practice. In order to select the right EHR software, you understand the needs of your practice. The software you select should fit your practice type and size. The systems architecture of the software you select (SaaS vs client server) should also fit with your practice’s workflow.

Along with the pricing for a particular EMR software, these factors need to be taken into consideration when selecting an EMR system.

Hardware Costs.

In addition to purchasing the EHR software, your practice may need to purchase additional hardware to support the infrastructure. Hardware may include computers, scanners, printers, server stations, smart phones, or tablets depending on the needs of the practice. To fully utilize the EHR’s potential, the hardware bought must complement the software system. The EMR software vendor you purchase from may have hardware recommendations to use with their system.

EMR Implementation.

EMR software vendors usually charge implementation expenses for installing the EMR software. This fee may be included in the EMR costs or may vary depending on the size of your practice. Therefore, it is important to ask your EMR vendor about these fees before purchasing software. If EMR implementation help isn’t offered by the EMR company, you may want to hire additional EMR Implementation Consultants.

You may also need to hire additional staff members during the implementation process. Disruption of workflow is to be expected during the transition, but having additional staff may ease the disruption. Additionally, besides installing hardware and software, you will also need to transfer patient data to the new system through paper medical record scanning. This can be done by staff members or various outside services.

EMR Training.

More expensive EMR software packages may come with free on-site staff training, so staff members can learn how to use the EMR system to the fullest extent. However, some EMR vendors may charge additional fees for training. Also, there is the option of hiring additional EMR Training consultants to assist in the training process. It is important to spend time and money properly training staff with the new EMR system, allowing optimal use of the system and best practice workflow.

Annual Maintenance.

Once the EMR system has been purchased and fully installed, there will still be some necessary annual maintenance costs. This may include updating the EMR software system, replacing old hardware, hiring networking professionals to ensure proper network connection between workstations, or additional maintenance.

While there may be high costs associated with purchasing and installing EMR systems, the overall benefits of adopting EMR can save you time and money in the long run. Additionally, there are ways to finance your EMR system purchase and there are also government payment incentives to help finance electronic medical records adoption.