The deployment of e-health record systems in doctor offices can cost $120,000 per physician, says a new study released Monday. Those costs not only include hardware, software, and other technology expenses, but also reflect disruptions in productivity and lost revenue as doctors get accustomed to using EHRs.
The survey of 200 physician practices nationwide by IT services firm CDW Healthcare found that doctors expect their number of patient encounters to drop by 10% in the first year after deploying an EHR. This lost revenue averages about $100,000 over a year. Some respondents expected to see productivity drop by as much as 25%, said Jon Karl director of sales at CDW Healthcare.
However, once physicians adjust to workflow changes and other hurdles involved with transitioning to EHR systems, they’ll average about a 15% boost in the number of patient encounters, which translates to about $150,000 in additional revenue, said Karl.
The faster physicians get over the hump in using new EHRs, the faster the productivity gain is, he said. Adequate training for using the software is key, and physicians should be ready for any adjustments they need to make in process workflow-or be prepared to have software tweaked to meet their workflow needs.
“Training is paramount,” said Karl.
While 66% of physician practices surveyed cited that the majority of the cost to deploy EHRs is associated with hardware and software, a big chunk of the expense of using EHRs during the first year is the lost productivity, according to the study finding.
During that time, hardware and software expenses account for only about 12% of the $120,000 cost per physician for practices deploying EHRs, said Karl.