Cost of EHR Down Time

Mark Anderson has an interesting article on Sys-con media about the cost of EHR down time. Among other analysis he makes the following assertion:
“One hour of software downtime can cost a practice almost $488.00 per physician”

EHR down time is something that I don’t think most doctors put much thought into when they are selecting an EHR. I think that putting a dollar sign next to it will help many doctors to really consider the impact of EHR down time on their clinic.

I believe it’s incredibly valuable for a clinic to seriously consider the impact of EHR down time will have on their clinic. I worked at one clinic where, while it was rather annoying, the patient care wasn’t terribly impacted by down time. They had to ask a few more questions, but in almost every case they could provide the patient care that was needed whether they had access to the EHR or not. Although, they did still have the cost of entering the data after the fact once the EHR came back. Thankfully, they never had more than a couple minutes down time at any point in the 5 years I worked with them.

The challenge of EHR down time is also greatly impacted by your choice of EHR. If you choose an in house EHR software, you’re down time planning will be very different than if you’re talking about a SaaS EHR. In fact, I think this topic is so important that I’m going to save it for a future post.

I’d be interested to hear if other people have tried to put a number on the cost of EHR down time. Did you get something similar to the $488/physician/hour that Mark Anderson suggests? If you have an EHR, how much down time have you experienced with your EHR? What were the causes of your EHR down time?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

7 Comments

  • John,

    Great find and thanks for sharing this pertinent and important metric surrounding the cost of EHR downtime. Acting as a consultant, I can recall numerous occasions where our clients have experienced downtime, be it due to power outages, human error, network issues, etc.

    I think more than the cost of downtime, is the intangibles – how are end-users perceptions of the EHR negatively shaped by these events? When trying to get providers to adopt EHRs, this adds more fuel to their fire in terms of being resistant to adoption. This underscore the value of a business continuity solution to act as an insurance policy.

    At Galen, we recognize there is going to be downtime – whether unexpected (due to the aforementioned reasons) or perhaps expected (in the case of application upgrades or planned maintenance). That is why we have committed to offering the industry leading business continuity solution – VitalCenter (http://vitalcenter.galenhealthcare.com/) . Our solution allows providers to have the information they need to continue to see their patients – and be able to upload the data when the EHR is back online!

    I would be curious to hear other’s stories of downtime as I know there must be a plethora of them out there. It is a painful experience, but sharing allows others to learn from and to avoid these precarious situations.

  • Justin,
    I’ll take the bait. VitalCenter looks pretty interesting. Which EHR software does it work with? What’s the cost? Is that really only a hospital based solution or can it work in ambulatory as well?

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