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What is the return on investment of your EHR ? Despite contradictory results and findings on the advantages and disadvantages of EHRs, the major concern of providers is whether all that trouble of implementing an EHR, has really been worth it ?

A recent report suggests that several medical practises are opting out of Meaningful Use altogether, to avoid complexities and loss of revenue. Physicians who are working towards meeting MU guidelines have now reconciled themselves to the fact that the costs of working EHRs are much higher than the incentives.

Short term loss to get long-term benefits !

If expecting EHRs to be a magic pill is absurd, jumping at shadows is even more so! The best approach towards working with EHRs is taking the middle-ground. Medical practices that have managed to get the best out of their EHRs are the ones who’ve methodically streamlined their workflow and increased revenue using their EHRs. But to take the first step calculating the return on investment is essential.

There are several ways to calculate the ROI of your EHR but the most effective way is to compare your medical practice’s administrative and financial performance, prior and post EHR implementation.

Let’s look at how much your EHR has saved !

Calculate how much on an average you’ve spent on:

Equipment costs:

  • Super-bills
  • Stationary
  • Fax sheets
  • Printer sheets
  • Inkjet
  • Postage costs
  • Files and folders

Employee costs:

  • Time spent on pulling out information
  • Time spent on patient chart filing and maintenance
  • Time spent to transmit information across the organization and to other ancillary care providers
  • Resource utilization and personnel saving
  • Time spent on filling out prescription forms

From a physician’s perspective:

  • Average reimbursement rate
  • Amount of time spent on inputting medical data into the EHR.
  • Monthly costs and time involved in communicating with providers, sharing and receiving medical information and locating patient data.

Calculating the cost of your EHR …

There are two costs that need to be considered; implementation and set-up costs and induced costs. Your hardware costs should not only include the cost of your system but should also include software upgrades, investing in new systems, servers and power and system backups etc. licence fees and subscription charges.

The costs of implementing the system, training staff to work with your EHR, paying for tech support and maintenance are the indirect or induced costs of working with an EHR. Though most medical practices sign an annual maintenance contract with vendors, the service post-implementation leaves much to be desired. So medical practices are hiring a full-time EHR expert to customize templates and handle technical snags. All expenses pertaining to your EHR need to be calculated to derive the actual “cost” of your system.

Two common ways to calculate your return on investment !

  1. The period of time it takes to earn the dollars spent on EHRs
  2. The cash-flow and workflow improvement post EHR implementation

The first criterion is easy to meet and most medical practices can recoup their investment dollars within a few months. Cash flow increments are hard to come by in the initial few months as the monstrous changes an EHR brings to the table can wreak havoc with a medical practice’s financial flow.

Most medical practices are happy about the quicker, more automated and better integrated workflow that EHRs offer. To understand better the changes in workflow that you system has brought to your practices and if it is a change for the better, analyse the important components that make up your everyday clinical workflow.

Break it down into key areas like:

  • Number of patients met
  • Average time taken per patient visit
  • Resource utilization
  • Time taken to document medical data
  • The amount of time it takes to bill for services
  • Coding accuracy
  • Patient cycle time
  • Claim scrubbing and editing options available

Better late than never !

A lot many physicians are regretting that they’d not calculated or focused on the ROI of their EHRs earlier. According to a study by Beacon Partners 51% of healthcare leaders felt that they should have started tracking metrics earlier. Performance measures are the preferred method to calculate ROI and around 40% of healthcare leaders use them to calculate their return on investment.

Only 37% of the respondents were happy with the way their medical practice was calculating ROI. There is no point in crying over spilt milk ! Catch up with your counterparts and start calculating the ROI of your EHR by connecting with BillingParadise EMR Experts !

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I’m a multi-certified revenue cycle management professional and compliance officer with 20+ years of experience. I contribute articles to leading healthcare publications and journals. I am currently working as Senior Transition Manager, in BillingParadise headquartered at Diamond Bar, California. BillingParadise offers Medical Billing Services that intersect perfectly with the EMR/Practice management system you use.BillingParadise has offices in New Jersey, New York, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and Texas.

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