Healthcare providers are often stuck between two extremes. On the one hand, the majority of industry leaders have already adopted electronic health records (EHR) systems and utilize them to enhance the quality of patient care and optimize internal processes. On the other, the cost of implementing EHR in hospitals upsets. After the news headlines about Mayo Clinic and its $1.5 billion cost of implementing electronic health records, many organizations feel like they cannot afford the cost of EHR.
We would like to comfort you a little bit from the start. The fact that someone spends several million or billion dollars on EHR integration doesn’t mean it’s the only option. The EHR implementation cost breakdown shows that these crazy expenses include much more than software development. They often comprise the cost of hardware, software licensing, consulting fees, projected maintenance, etc. Hence, if you want to invest in the development of an electronic health records solution, the actual costs may be considerably lower.
To help you better understand the average cost of EHR implementation, we will guide you through all the key aspects, such as:
- What is EMR and EHR software and why companies invest in it
- Overall cost of implementing EHR in a hospital: what to factor in apart from software development
- Average cost of EHR implementation in terms of software development
EMR or EHR: Choosing the Right Software
Since EHR (electronic health records) and EMR (electronic medical records) terms are often used interchangeably, you may be confused about which software is right for you. Let’s figure that out together.
Both solutions help manage medical records, but their functionality significantly differs. EHR systems are more complex than EMR tools and more widely adopted in the healthcare industry. Unlike EMR solutions, they don’t focus solely on medical records but also help with health information exchange, clinical decisions support, patient support, electronic communications, population health reporting, and administrative processes. This makes EHR software a preferred option among large healthcare corporations that require a high level of connectivity between teams and have a large hospital capital budget.
To better understand the differences between EMR and EHR, check out the key characteristics below:
Given that the capabilities of EHR tools are more versatile than EMR solutions, electronic medical records pricing is usually lower. Electronic medical records costs don’t include complex cross-team implementation and extensive functionality. Despite the low cost of electronic medical records in hospitals, today, most healthcare providers invest in EHR software. It turns out to be more effective for an organization in the long-run.
Why companies invest in EHR solutions
Overall, the companies that invest in EHR software can be divided into two categories: healthcare organizations and technology providers. Some key aspects of each segment are demonstrated below.
The cost of implementing electronic health records doesn’t discourage healthcare providers from adopting the software. In the US, 4 in 5 non-federal acute care hospitals have already implemented basic EHR solutions. Around 60% of EHR users claim to be “very satisfied” with the software, whereas only 28% report the opposite.
Overall Cost of Implementing EHR in a Hospital: What to Factor In Apart from Software Development
As we have already mentioned, a software development budget and the overall cost of implementing electronic health records aren’t the same thing. Those who plan hospital capital budgeting need to keep this in mind. Usually, apart from EHR development, the final electronic health records costs include many expenses, such as:
- Hardware purchase. To provide all teams with access to EHR software, an organization will need desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and other hardware. Besides, since EHR software processes large volumes of data, it also requires investment in either on-premise or cloud storage depending on the technology stack used.
- Training end-users. According to Definitive Healthcare and Vocera study, 77% of nurses, physicians, and other medical staff feel stressed because of tech innovations, such as documenting in EHR, dealing with multiple alarms, retrieving data for EHR, etc. To simplify technology adoption for them, budget planning and cost estimates in healthcare facilities need to take into account training. Without it, the implemented software will be much less effective.
- Projected maintenance. Chances are you will need to fix, optimize, and upgrade an EHR system in the future. These expenses are usually added to electronic health records costs. Maintenance is essential to make sure the software operates smoothly and quickly resolve any tech issues as soon as they appear.
- Consulting fee. Healthcare systems are not so easy to handle and maintain. That’s why healthcare organizations may need to spend additional money on occasional consultations from software and hardware providers.
For accurate EHR implementation cost breakdown, note that some expenses included in EHR hospital budget planning and cost estimates aren’t newly introduced. They have already existed in the HIM department budget before the organization decided to factor them in. These are usually labor costs paid to internal full-time employees that will work on EHR implementation. Whether to include these costs into your operational budget or not is totally up to you.
Average Сost of EHR Implementation in Terms of Software Development
Software development takes up a large share of the EHR implementation budget. It’s a time-consuming process that requires deep expertise and a lot of effort. If you want to estimate how much does EMR software cost, there are two main factors to consider: the hired tech provider and the type of the EHR system to be designed.
Those who engage local specialists in the US or Western Europe usually face very high electronic medical records costs. As a result, many healthcare tech companies choose to outsource IT processes to a remote team of developers. This approach allows them to cut operational expenses and find a skilled workforce in another location. They either fully delegate the engineering process to a third party or hire several necessary specialists to power their internal teams. Since in some locations like Eastern Europe, the hourly rates of software development companies are lower, this can allow you to reduce the cost of EHR software without sacrificing its quality.
Software complexity is the second factor that affects the cost of electronic medical records. To get the first working version for iOS, Android, or web platform, you will need at least a $60,000-$100,000 operating budget in healthcare. For a fully-featured solution that can run on multiple platforms, expect the cost of EHR systems for hospitals to start at $300,000.
Core Functionality of EHR Systems and How it Affects the Cost
To make an accurate EHR implementation cost breakdown, you should know what capabilities you need. Healthcare software usually provides multiple features that help clinicians, caregivers, patients, insurers, and other specialists who keep healthcare organizations running cooperate. The main functionality includes:
- Electronic document management. An EHR system stores the health information of patients to allow clinicians access and share the necessary documents in real time.
- E-prescribing. This feature enables medical practitioners to send prescriptions to the selected pharmacy electronically.
- Medical dashboards. Patient dashboards are used by clinicians to monitor the healthcare KPIs of patients and view their previous interactions with the healthcare organization.
- Time management and scheduling. This functionality helps clinicians track the treatment plan of patients and make sure all the necessary procedures and checkups are completed in time.
- Electronic communication. The medical personnel, patients, and caregivers can exchange information through messages, chats, or other channels online.
- Integrations. An EHR system integrates with hospital information systems, billing services, wearables, mobile applications, and other healthcare solutions for additional capabilities and improved connectivity.
Apart from the listed features, you may also want to add some additional functionality for Mhealth, telemedicine, or reporting. Its benefits outweigh the increased cost of EHR systems for hospitals providing more detailed patient data and closer interaction between patients and healthcare providers.
Generally, the most secure way to learn the cost of EHR software is to use consulting and run business research. Empeek provides both kinds of services and fully covers all the stages of the software development lifecycle. You can hire us as a dedicated team to complete the project from scratch or request specific tech experts to join an existing project at any stage.
Stages of EHR Development
1. Requirement analysis. At this stage, business analysts finalize the project concept and provide product backlog, functional specification, and a roadmap with a rough EHR implementation cost breakdown.
2. UX/UI design. Designers complete prototyping and create the architecture plan of the project with EHR design.
3. Coding. Depending on the chosen tech stack, a software provider assembles a team of software developers, a QA engineer, and a product manager. In most cases, at the development stage, EHR software requires the joint work of iOS, Android, front-end, and back-end developers.
4. Testing and quality assurance. QA engineers finalize the product and prepare it for the launch.
5. Implementation and deployment. The team releases the software and helps to implement it if necessary. Many software providers also provide software maintenance services for newly launched and existing products.
Budgeting in healthcare organizations requires advanced planning and regular reviews. Regardless of who you are, a software provider investing in EHR services or a hospital adopting them, it’s important to consider all expenses. Remember that the cost of electronic medical records is not only about software development but also about implementation. Always take this into account in your budget.
If you seek a tech partner to start an EHR project or need help with already deployed healthcare solutions, Empeek is here to assist you. Our company focuses solely on software development for healthcare and has completed dozens of projects for healthcare leaders and startups worldwide.
Want to get a quote? Contact us to get an estimated cost of EHR software and discuss your project.