Be Prepared for the Unexpected Costs Associated With EHR Adoption

June 9, 2011 No Comments


Late last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began issuing Medicare electronic health record (EHR) incentive payments to eligible providers. For physicians who were able to attest their compliance with the Meaningful Use requirements, that could mean an $18,000 annual incentive payment–which sounds like a nice pile of money to get started on EHR adoption.

However, at a House Small Business subcommittee on healthcare and technology hearing last week, panel members were told that many practices are finding the experiences of installing EHRs more work than they initially had bargained for. In some instances, the incentive payments were overshadowed by high up-front–and sometime unanticipated–costs.

Take Olympia, Wash.-based Sasha Kramer, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with a solo practice. She currently employs two and a half employees–seeing an average of 100 to 125 patients per week. Two years ago, she told the House panel, she purchased an EHR system at a cost of more than $41,000. She received $19,964 through a grant funded by the Washington Health Information Collaborative for Health Information Technology, and using business cash reserves, paid $25,000 for the remaining amount.

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