Hospitals Need to Consider Comprehensive EHR Costs

Implementing an electronic health records system might cost more than initially meets the eye, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 

The study, conducted across the pond in England, identified four overarching cost categories associated with implementing an EHR: infrastructure (such as hardware and software); personnel (such as a project managers and training teams); estates/facilities (furniture, fittings and space); and other (such as training materials). According to the study's authors, many factors affected these costs, with different hospitals choosing varying amounts and types of infrastructure, diverse training approaches for staff, and different software applications. 

In addition, researchers discovered that hospitals did not fully account for costs associated with certain factors such as the need to back fill staff due to lost productivity, and the need to test the system due to inadequate vendor testing. In addition, some hospitals incurred significant costs training clinicians and administrative staff to use the new system, using either one-to-one, classroom, or mass training sessions, or different combinations of both.

"With cost considered one of the most significant barriers, it is important for hospitals and governments to be clear from the outset of the major cost categories involved and the factors that may impact on these costs," stated the authors in the study's conclusion. 

To conduct the study, researchers selected a range of diverse organizations across three different geographical areas in England that were at different stages of implementing three centrally procured applications. Information was then collected through 41 semi-structured interviews with hospital staff, members of the implementation team, and those involved in the implementation at a national level.