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The costs and ROI of EHRs

When considering the purchase and implementation of an electronic health record (EHR) solution for your new practice, you will need to examine the true costs and the realistic return on investment (ROI) on this essential software platform.

More independent physicians are realizing the benefits of improved efficiency and better patient outcomes that can be achieved by optimizing the use of EHRs. Almost 9 in 10 office-based physicians in the US had adopted an EHR as of 2021. Nearly 4 in 5 had adopted a certified EHR (CEHR). The trend has been consistent since 2015. The adoption of EHRs by office-based physicians has more than doubled since 2008.

The benefits of EHRs include the generation of a positive ROI and improved organizational efficiency. EHR-enabled practices report that they:

  • Spend less time chasing charts: When staff members have quick, easy access to patient records, they save time that would otherwise be spent locating paper charts.

  • Have improved information availability: With EHRs, patient records are available simultaneously to all appropriate staff members at all times, meaning your staff can more efficiently locate and process patient information.

  • Experience improved medical practice management: Through integrated scheduling systems that link appointments directly to progress notes, automated coding, and easier-to-manage claims, your staff can more efficiently run your organization and improve medical practice management.

  • Reduced their paperwork: Administrative tasks, such as filling out forms and processing billing requests, require staff time and effort. EHRs streamline these tasks.

  • Spend less deciphering handwriting: With EHRs, staff members will spend less time interpreting handwritten notes.

  • Experience enhanced information sharing: EHRs can be programmed for easy or even automatic delivery of information from laboratories or other providers, saving staff time that would otherwise be spent manually entering information into patient records.

Elation’s EHR solution enables you to monitor your panel, close the loop on outstanding actions to monitor adherence to the care plan, and gain deeper insights into your practice’s performance.

As to the costs of EHRs, research has found that the typical provider should expect to pay about $1,200 per year per user. That research also revealed that:

  • The most popular reason for implementing an EHR was to support practice growth, with 41% of those surveyed saying this was the driving factor for their practice.

  • Many practices implemented an EHR to gain greater functionality and improved efficiency.

  • The typical timeframe for selecting an EHR is about 12 weeks.

In a recent interview, healthcare leaders discussed the potential ROI of EHR implementation. They agreed that EHRs contribute to improvements in operations, including revenue cycle operations, on a single, integrated platform. Tom Barnett, chief information and digital officer of Memphis, Tenn.-based Baptist Memorial Health Care, noted that “Today's EHRs more than pay for themselves and, when implemented properly, can positively exceed their ROI projections.”

Susan Snedaker, CIO of Tucson, Ariz.-based El Rio Community Health, said that "If the healthcare organization manages the EHR integration well and tightly manages scope and cost, there can be a significant return on the investment over time. That ROI can show up directly as higher revenues through productivity gains or enhanced revenue capture. It can also show up in less quantifiable ways such as higher provider satisfaction — more time with patients and less documentation time — and more efficient clinical workflows.” 

A national survey of physicians ready for meaningful use revealed that:

  • 94% of providers report that their EHR makes records readily available at point of care.

  • 88% report that their EHR produces clinical benefits for the practice.

  • 75% of providers report that their EHR allows them to deliver better patient care.