Economics of Health IT in Small Practices

A Health Affairs research article entitled ‘The Value of Electronic Health Records In Solo or Small Group Practices’ presents some much needed economic data on EHR deployments in small offices. Of interest to Free and Open Source Software users is that according to this study, one-third of the cost was due to proprietary software: ‘…Software, training, and installation costs averaged $22,038 per FTE provider. Where data permitted separate estimates, we calculated that software alone accounted for about one-third of overall costs. Software costs depended on such factors as interfaces, other EHR-related software, and the negotiating savvy of the EHR champion; one practice acquired sharply discounted software from another practice. Installation and training costs ranged from virtually none (where there were technically savvy EHR champions) to more than $14,000 per FTE provider. Hardware costs per provider averaged almost $13,000 per FTE provider, ranging from under $7,500 for four practices that had new equipment pre-EHR or acquired used equipment to more than $23,000 for two practices that had little usable pre-EHR equipment, including networking. Revenue losses from reduced visits during training and implementation averaged $7,473 per FTE provider, ranging fromnone (in two practices) to $20,000 per FTE provider in one practice. Losses depended in part on the extent to which providers worked longer hours initially instead of reducing patient visits…’

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