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Understanding the High Cost of EHR

Understanding the High Cost of EHR
11 July 2016

Typically speaking, technological advancement drives down costs.  This trend leaves many in the medical profession scratching their heads as to why EHR systems still cost so much. It is important to understand this phenomenon to both adequately prepare for the future of electronic health records and to understand the greater market trends that influence EHR pricing.

Why Health IT Costs Aren’t Diminishing (When Other Tech Costs Are)

There are a variety of reasons that health IT and ehr cost are remaining static despite decreasing costs in other areas of the tech industry. One reason is the layout of the market itself: EHR cost currently ranges from zero dollars upfront to tens thousands of dollars and everything in between. For many companies, there are few incentives to lower costs within their target market bracket.

Another reason for static EHR cost is the need for updates and maintenance in the unique healthcare environment. Unlike many fields, healthcare is constantly in flux with tight federal regulatory changes and requirements, with EHR vendors continually updating their systems to stay abreast of changes in Meaningful Use requirements or updates such as ICD-10.

What Impacts EHR Cost?

As stated above, many of the reasons for healthcare IT’s particular market landscape are unique or specific to this industry, differentiating electronic records systems and HITaaS (Healthcare IT as a Service) systems from other tech services.

  • Risk

As with all health systems, EHRs are subject to significant liability. Features that can facilitate billing activities (i.e. historical auto-population features) also carry liability. Other electronic health records features, such as e-prescribing, drug-interaction notifications, and more, inherently relate to risk. While HIPAA specifications identify the medical provider as liable for the integrity of records, EHR developers nonetheless operate under inherent risk and the need to update, maintain, and optimize their products and systems.

  • Time to market

From design to development of an electronic records system, time to market (TTM) plays an important role in system costs. The higher the TTM, the greater the cost. However, many times the higher-quality the system, the longer it takes to design and develop. In this way, a higher value of an electronic health records system can be reflected by a higher cost.

  • Government involvement

Federal reimbursements for EHR systems included those for Medicare and Medicaid as specified by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Other incentives like 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) also provided incentives for qualifying EHR use in medical practices. These incentives have driven an increase in competition amongst EHR systems to adhere to an expensive compliance process.

  • Certifications

For a medical practice to receive federal reimbursements, they must use an EHR that is certified for Meaningful Use. These and other certification processes can be costly, and contribute to the overall cost of an EHR system.

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of health records requires expertise and experience. At ZH Healthcare, we are proud to offer healthcare solutions to fit your unique medical practices affordably. Thanks to invaluable industry knowledge and experience, we are committed to offering HITaaS solutions that are affordable and effective.

Contact us to speak with one of our EHR experts and learn how we can serve your practice today.