Maximize the Benefits of Electronic Health Records in Your Practice
Electronic health records, or EHRs, have become a critical part of improving patient experience and delivering better outcomes while lowering the costs of care. EHRs allow medical practices to seamlessly access data on a patient's medical history and interactions within the healthcare system. With this knowledge, doctors can make more informed treatment and care decisions.
But implementing an EHR comes with significant costs. These include not only the upfront investment in the technology but also the time spent training your staff so they can use the software to its full potential. With a smart strategy for financing and implementation, your practice can quickly start seeing the benefits of electronic health records through increased efficiency and better patient care.
The value of EHRs
Before EHRs became commonplace, patients had to bring their medical records to a new doctor or arrange for them to be passed from office to office. Each practice would store these records in a locked file cabinet for safekeeping. An EHR eliminates this inefficiency.
EHRs can reduce filing, storage and transcription costs. They can even lead to fewer medical errors. A digital approach to managing patient records could also mean less manual work for your office staff and fewer hours spent managing paper-based processes. An EHR integrates patient booking with progress notes and details about the healthcare services you provided, all of which leads to more accurate medical coding and billing.
Financing the investment
Though the benefits of electronic health records are many, these systems are expensive. EHR costs vary based on many factors, including the size of your practice and what features you need. Generally, the investment can range from $15,000 to $70,000 per provider. If your practice has multiple providers, the cost could be well into the six figures.
However, there are several financing options available for small or medium-sized practices that want to implement an EHR. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides federal funding for eligible healthcare providers and hospitals that implement EHR systems and demonstrate meaningful use. This means the system must be able to securely exchange health information with other platforms, and providers need to show it's helping them improve care coordination and patient outcomes.
Some states also may have EHR incentives, loan programs or collaborations with other organizations that provide grants or loan funding. If you serve Medicare or Medicaid patients, contact your state's Medicare and Medicaid agency to find out what programs are available.
Another option is to work with your EHR vendor on a financing plan. You may be able to arrange monthly payments after making a down payment. Just be clear on the interest rate of the loan, if it covers any future software or hardware upgrades and your overall long-term borrowing costs before you go this route.
Bank financing is another alternative. Your local bank may offer a standard business loan, a line of credit for business purchases, or special financing options for leasing or purchasing equipment for your practice. If your local bank is a Small Business Administration approved lender, you could be eligible for a more favorable loan with a longer repayment term and lower down payment or monthly payment.
Making your investment work for your practice
Whatever financing option you choose, it's important to get the most out of your investment. Staff training is crucial for successful EHR implementation and long-term use. Make sure your vendor provides ongoing training as you onboard new staff members and as the needs of your practice change.
Work with your staff to create a new, technology-enabled workflow. Instead of sticking with the traditional way your practice has always done things, use an EHR to make your workflow more efficient. You might start by digitizing every part of the patient intake, appointment and billing process. An EHR can handle online scheduling, e-prescribing, coordinating lab tests or meeting federal reporting requirements.
By taking these steps, you can make your practice more efficient and financially sustainable while giving patients the best care possible.
Financial insights for your business
This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.