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A Guide to Cost Estimation in EMR Implementation

Paul Kovalenko Paul Kovalenko | February 15, 2023 | 8 min

In the era of digital healthcare, organizations look for efficient solutions to boost productivity and foster an improved patient experience while reducing costs. Many opt for EMR (Electronic Medical Record) and EHR (Electronic Health Record) solutions. However, on average, it takes around 12 weeks to select a suitable platform.  

One of the possible reasons for this is the variety of platforms on the market, from Amazon Charts and CureMD to Practice Fusion and VistA. However, the majority find it difficult to optimize their EMR investments and find the best price/quality option. 

In this article, we will break down EMR integration solution cost structures and specify direct and indirect costs for you to get a comprehensive comparison of alternatives for any budget.

Who Needs EMR Integration? 

An EMR is a digital version of the physical paper-based medical records of every patient. Basically, it’s a platform to store, access, and manage digital patient records that allows for:

  • Streamlined processes through the optimization of documentation 
  • Improved productivity through simple and quick access to patient data on a company-level
  • Enhanced data accuracy and security through a single patient data storage and management system

All these factors result in improved patient care when patients don’t need physical copies of their medical histories. Any physician can access current medical records and update them in real-time, which fosters enhanced efficiency and service. 

While it may seem that the EHR/EMR integration process is only relevant for healthcare providers and hospitals, it’s also beneficial for telehealth providers and healthcare software development companies. 

What Does the EMR Integration Process Involve?  

Although you can always develop new EMR software, it’s hardly the most efficient option for anyone except for large-scale healthcare providers. The cost of EMR software development from scratch is too high, and the delivery time is long. Here’s why the overall cost of EMR implementation is much more affordable, especially for small- and medium-sized companies. 

Here are four stages a healthcare provider will encounter when planning an EMR integration:

1. Planning 

At the planning stage, you need to analyze the following:

  • Business needs to elicit the requirements for EMR integration and the required features, which affect the cost of EMR integration.
  • Your digital strategy, IT infrastructure, EHR software documentation, and medical apps you plan to integrate in order to spot their capabilities and blind spots.
  • Data flows and sources to evaluate its business value and decide which data to share.
  • EHR/EMR software risks to mitigate them at the integration stage.
  • Applicable regulations like HIPAA, PIPEDA (for the Canadian market), HITECH, etc., to draft compliance for data transfer processes and security.

Besides, you should design a high-level project plan with key milestones, an overall timeline, project dependencies, and project acceptance criteria. 

2. Integration Design

Integration design can be implemented together with the planning stage, and it includes:

  • Defining communication standards to be applied to EMR and integrated apps.
  • Thinking through data storages, databases, data exchange standards, and data transformation processes.
  • Choosing an integration approach (Common data storage/API integration/Mediated integration).
  • Selecting the tech stack based on the chosen approach.
  • Designing the EMR integration solution.

3. Integration + Testing

The longest phase in the process is EMR integration development, together with:

  • Systems alignment for your existing infrastructure and architecture to properly communicate with EMR.
  • Testing the performance of the integrated EMR and the connected applications.
  • Security checks to ensure patient data is protected and meets industry security standards.

4. Support + Scalability

Support is an ongoing process that requires daily contributions. You always need to monitor system performance to ensure data quality and security. If the number of patients or patient data increases, you need to ensure your system is capable of handling it. If it fails, you need to scale your solution.  

What Is an EMR Implementation Cost Estimate?

How much does EMR software cost? You can get a variety of answers to this question; it can be anything from $0 and $100 for low-cost options to $1,500 and $5,000 for software licensing. EMR software pricing significantly varies depending on your needs and tech appetites. However, you shouldn’t forget about system integration. The cost estimate for EMR implementation ranges from $30,000 to $150,000. 

The final cost of EMR depends on several factors:

1. Pricing Model

The cost of EMR systems varies from vendor to vendor. What is more, they offer different pricing models for you to consider:

  • Subscription-based or pay-as-you-go model. It’s a fixed-cost plan with pre-defined EMR capabilities: features, the number of users, data storage, and more. Typically, you cover a one-time upfront cost ($1,500 – $5,000) and then a monthly fee ranging from $200 to $700 per provider. Such a model is applied by Chart Logic, AdvancedMD, and PrognoCIS EMR.
  • Pay-per-visit-based model. Costs depend on the number of patient encounters, which ranges from $0.50 to $1.5 per visit, covering usage, maintenance, and support. This is offered by AdvancedMD EHR and Charmhealth EHR.

2. EMR Deployment Type 

EMR integration cost significantly depends on the deployment type, where a cloud-based approach is far more affordable than an on-premises one. 

  • On-premise. This involves hosting EMR on your servers and getting a perpetual software license that costs between $1,200 and $500,000+. Besides, you need to invest in hardware and continuous maintenance and support. 
  • Cloud-based. This allows you to store data remotely on a vendor’s servers and usually involves an annual or monthly subscription license. The options are vast: from $200/month/user to $35,000 per month. This option doesn’t require significant upfront costs like the on-premises one.

3. System Complexity 

This can be broken down into two categories:

  • Customization, including any adjustments for a purchased EMR to meet your business needs. This can be anything from patient note templates with customized fields to data analytics. The cost depends on the number of features and users accessing them.
  • Data Migration. This applies when you have existing data to extract and export from the current system and then import into a new one. It can be charged at a fixed price or by the scope of the data. 

4. Integration

Regardless of your system specifics and deployment type, you have to cover an EMR implementation cost. If you don’t have an in-house specialist to install the software, be ready to pay, on average, $1,000 – $3,000 for system installation and configuration. 

If you lack hardware such as desktop computers, tablets, printers, scanners, and other devices, estimate how many devices will need to be purchased before planning EMR integration.

What Hidden Costs May EMR Integration Have? 

Besides your EMR system cost, consider the following hidden ones:

Training 

This may reach up to $20,000, depending on the number of employees. It includes training your staff to use new EMR software, adopting digital skills and digital collaboration for them to be able to navigate the software and use all its capabilities.  

Lost productivity 

Gaining experience following the system launch leads to slower workflow, especially if no equivalent systems were used in the past. 

Staffing 

Usually relevant for medium and large companies that constantly need a team of IT specialists to monitor, maintain, and support the existing software and hardware. 

Need help with EMR integration?
Contact Langate today

How Long Does EMR Implementation Take? 

When estimating EMR implementation expenses consider not only financial aspects. You also need to calculate the amount of time required to implement the software. Developing a new EMR system takes longer than implementing a third-party one. Besides, cloud options are typically quicker to integrate than on-premises ones. 

You can expect to devote between one and six months to EMR integration. The precise delivery time depends on the system’s complexity and the scope of the integration. For example, the planning and integration design stages can take approximately 3-4 weeks. The integration itself can take anything from one to five months. 

5 Key Tips for Effective EMR Integration

EMR integration efficiency isn’t limited to the technical side; you also need to closely collaborate with its primary users — your employees — for EMR to foster productivity and improve the patient experience. Here are five tips to consider:

Make it company-wide 

To reap the benefits of digital transformation, you need to promote initiatives such as EMR on a company level for all staff to be aware of its capabilities, importance, and specifics. 

Promote personal accountability 

While top management is an example to follow, you need to promote a sense of personal accountability for the project’s success. In other words, every employee is responsible for correct system usage.

Collaborate with a tech partner 

This allows you to quickly spot improvement points and align the system with your business needs. Besides, your tech partner can suggest useful customization and integration ideas that will deliver more value.

Choose a leader to inspire others 

This is a role model who will be the first one to try and use the system, help others to navigate it, and unleash its full potential.

Think through smooth transitioning 

Don’t expect your staff to start using 100% of EMR capabilities from day 1. Set up relevant milestones and benchmarks for them to gradually explore the system and get used to a new working environment. 

Langate Provides Custom HealthTech / Healthcare Apps & Web Software Development Services 

If you are looking for a reliable vendor to guide you along your EMR integration journey, Langate is ready to assist you. With 20+ years of healthcare software development experience, you can rely on our professional services, from idea valuation to integration with Epic and quality medical healthcare web application services. This allows you to reap the benefits of custom healthcare solutions aligned to your business needs and budgets. 

Since the team knows how to simplify data integration and enrich the system with relevant features without undermining your budget, you can count on professional EMR implementation support.

Conclusion

EMR software cost structures depend on several factors, including the pricing model, deployment type, customization, data migration, and integration needs. Besides, you need to consider hidden costs like staffing, employee training, and lost productivity. By carefully analyzing these factors, you can find the most affordable EMR implementation option. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the EMR integration solution cost include?

It includes the pricing model, integration cost, deployment type, and system customization. Besides, you may need to cover data migration, employee training, hardware, and recruiting costs.

How much does EMR cost?

The cost of EMR varies from a free option to $35,000 per license. Moreover, you may need to purchase hardware and invest in integration and employee training.

What is the cost of EMR integration?

It varies from $1,000 to $150,000 depending on the scope of the project, the number of EHR integrations, the deployment type, and the system complexity.

How can I decrease the cost of EMR implementation?

You can choose a free or low-cost EMR system. Moreover, cloud-based options are more affordable than on-premises ones.

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