Costs are wide ranging...

The costs involved in upgrading a practice to an EHR system vary widely depending on a number of factors. The costs range from a few thousand dollars up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every practice is different with regard to their current Health IT maturity, technical skills, and current/future needs in an EHR system. A general rule of thumb is that an EHR system - including Practice Management (PM) software - for a "solo" practice will run about $15K for the software, $15K for the IT infrastructure assuming none previously existed (server, clients, networking, Internet, etc.), and about $8K for training and support. This totals out to an average of $38K.

One thing to keep in mind is that most practices already have some form of PM software that tracks patient demographics, scheduling, and coding/billing. These legacy systems should be replaced with a new integrated PM/EHR system. Why? Because most of the integrated systems sold today use a single database model and run on a single user interface. They are built from the ground up to integrate all of the practice's functions together making it easier to operate the business functions as a single entity (medical and office functionality combined). Trying to patch together a new EHR system with a legacy PM system is simply asking for a great deal of trouble because of interoperability issues. This will become more apparent when Stage-2 of "meaningful use" begins in 2013 (where "reporting" becomes the predominant focus of incentive payment qualification).

The following factors will most profoundly influence the cost of EHR adoption:

Many EHR vendors are offering special financing terms. Of course, there are many alternate sources of funding available as well... including low interest bank loans for those who qualify.

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