Tips For Keeping Your EMR Implementation Within Budget

Posted on February 9, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Just stumbled across a nice list from Physicians EHR listing 10 tips for keeping your EHR implementation within budget. Many of the tips offer smart suggestions on how to plan, including:

* Developing a pre-implementation budgeting worksheet listing project hard and soft costs
* Finding out which practitioners meet vendor requirements to be “licensed users”
* Conducting an inventory of current hardware to see if some items can be used with the new system

I have some serious quibbles with a couple of these points, though.

For one thing, they’re suggesting that management planners prepare for a six to 12 week reduction in productivity after go-live — and suggest that it will begin to bounce back weeks eight to 12.

While I don’t have hard data on this, this sounds bogus. The anecdotes I hear suggest that planners should expect productivity to drop for a much longer period, maybe several months if not more.  (This of course begs the question of whether the rest of the analyses you’ve so carefully made will work, as low productivity can shoot the budget by itself.)

I’d also wonder whether it makes sense to “project EHR-related efficiencies” prior to implementation.  While this is nothing more than common sense for most rollouts, EHR implementations are still something of a black box.

The reality is that the whole phenomenon of widespread EHR use is new, and the data on efficiencies scarce. I’d argue that the time to do that analysis is after testing the implementation with a select group of clinical users for three to six months, not trying to do ahead of time.

Still, I can’t argue with putting an emphasis on projected costs, analyzing software options and preparing for consulting fees.  All told, this list is worth a look if you’re planning your EHR rollout.