If you manage the finances in a healthcare provider agency, it may seem that paying for individual EHR users is a good way to keep a tight rein on your EHR budget, but it is likely to be costing you more to do this. Generally speaking, EHR software systems turn out to be more expensive if you are not on a fixed payment basis.
Fee Structures Tend to Penalize Providers Paying for Individual EHR Users
There are many EHR systems on the market, and the fee structures they use are equally diverse. Some providers offer their EHR systems with no upfront costs, and others use a pay-per-use fee structure, while yet others charge a monthly fee for a contracted set of options. The basic fee for an individual user averages $200 per month but may be much higher.
Apart from higher fee structures, paying for individual EHR users reduces productivity and efficiency. If frontline staff are restricted in their use of the EHR system, they may have to defer data entry until access to the system is available. There may also be delays in accessing vital patient information. This can reduce the number of patients that can be seen each day.
It is likely that paying for individual EHR users will only make economic sense for solo practitioners. EHR system providers are able to benefit from economy of scale, so they are normally able to offer much more competitive packages when healthcare providers opt for fixed fee contracts.
How to Avoid Paying for Individual EHR Users
When you do the math and realize how much you are paying for individual EHR users in your agency, you will want to look at alternatives to your current system. You may be able to negotiate a fixed-fee structure with your current EHR system provider. If not, then it is time to consider using a different system that provides you with some flexibility.
Determining What You Need
Before you switch providers, it is vital to undertake a detailed examination of just what your agency needs from an EHR system.1 If you do not have this information, you are essentially working in the dark. It is a daunting task to analyze requirements, and it may be worthwhile employing an external expert to help. You can also get valuable help from your nearest regional extension center.2
When you know your requirements, you are in a position to seek proposals from EHR system providers. Be aware from the start that you may not be able to find a system that matches your needs 100 percent, so it is a good idea to identify areas where you can most easily compromise.
EHR systems have to be flexible to meet the needs of many different types of healthcare providers. That makes it difficult to work out exactly how much needs to be allocated for an EHR budget. However, for all but the smallest practices, paying for individual users is the most expensive option.