Tips For Keeping Your EMR Implementation Within Budget

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.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • I agree with you on the lost productivity time after having implemented and changed EMRs several times over the years. You can count on at least 3 months of reduced productivity, even if just switching from one EMR to another. This is always a challenge to the busy practitioner who is booked at least 6 months if not longer in advance.

  • As challenging as it is to predict the answers to “how long” and “how much” types of questions, it’s very important to make a good effort at this type of planning. The pain eventually pays off and you end up learning so much in the process.

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