As a medical practitioner who is striving to expand their practice, performing daily clerical tasks would be the last thing you would want to be involved in. Electronic Health Records by digitizing information is changing the way medical practice operate today.
According to a national survey of doctors, 94% of healthcare providers report that using EHRs provide a seamless flow of patient information that immediately helps them address their patients’ concerns. 75% of the providers approve of EHRs for delivering timely and better patient care.
What are Electronic Heath Records?
Electronic Health Records(EHRs) are computerized records that include complete medical history, diagnosis, treatment plans, laboratory findings, reports, etc. of a patient. These records give authorized and easy access anytime and anywhere.
The information in EHRs can be created and managed by authorized providers and shared across specialists, laboratories, medical imaging facilities, etc.
EHRs enable patients to access medical care from the same practitioner, promoting timely assistance and scope for patient retention.
Basic Components of an EHR
Patient management component: It is required to document all events-from patient registration to discharge. When a patient is registered for the first time, a unique ID is created called as Medical Record Number (MRN), followed by a unique ‘encounter ID’ for subsequent visits.
Clinical component: It allows for drug formulary and maintenance, prescriptions, medication administration record, barcode medication charting and nursing documentation.
Laboratory component: It can be either capturing results from lab machines or integration with orders and billing.
Billing System: It includes various charges generated while taking care of a patient. This component lets organizations track expenses, revenue cycle performance and inventory too.
Radiology Information System (RIS): Allows to manage patient workflow, orders, test results and images
Benefits of an EHR
Many developed countries have adopted EHRs for better and efficient delivery of medical services and have benefitted from it.
Cost effectiveness and savings can be attributed to the following:
- Automation of time consuming paper-driven and labour-intensive tasks
- Reduced record maintenance and storage costs
- Reduced medical errors
- Reduced redundancy of work thereby avoiding rework which involves cost
- Improved service quality
The main components for EHR implementation
- Purchase of hardware: Hardware components such as computers, switches, cables, wireless internet connections, etc. would be required. The cost of the hardware depends on the brand, memory, speed and efficiency budget allocated for implementation of EHR.
- Software: One can directly purchase the software and its license from an EHR vendor or access the software application using Software as a Service (SaaS).
SaaS is a means of using software through cloud computing, wherein, a third-party software application provider offers the software on a monthly or an annual subscription basis. In this kind of an arrangement, the applications to implement EHRs can be accessed through the web.
- Installation: Many EHRs offer free installation and hassle-free transition to the new technology.
- Personnel training: It is imperative to invest in proper training of staff to adopt to the new technology for a successful transition and smooth execution.
- Network fees and maintenance: Potential maintenance costs include continuous technical support, in-house staff training and training of new recruits, hardware repair and maintenance, software license and agreement cost and updating at regular intervals, telecom fee and server maintenance charges, if applicable.
The Cost Involved
Several studies estimate that the cost of installation of the EHR system range from Rs. 9 lakh to 45 lakh (around $15,000 to $70,000) depending on various factors such as:
- Functionality of the EHR
- Size and enormity of the hospital
- Amount of integration required for a particular business
- Mode of operation: on-site or web based (SaaS model adoption)
The pricing of EHRs can greatly vary where one can either pay-per-patient, or pay-per-episode or pay-per-GB, etc. Again, there are two types of pricing models, perpetual license which would cost around Rs. 75,000-Rs. 20,00,000 as a one-time fee; and, hardware cost and subscription license which has a monthly subscription fee per provider/ user which can range from Rs. 13,000-Rs. 22,50,000.
Training material and other resources may cost around Rs. 10,000-Rs. 50,000. Charges may be incurred for data migration and tend to range from 5,00,000 to Rs. 15,00,000. Maintenance would involve monthly subscription charges, hardware repair and replacement, new hire training, etc.
Doctors can source the investment funds through their own savings or consider availing a loan. Many lenders offer customized Business Loan for Doctors based on their unique needs and requirements.
The Top Players
The top Indian companies that offer the best EHRs are MediXcel EMR, Docengage, iCliniq, Live Health, Lybrate, Meditab, RxVault, etc. However, there are some global companies that offer some of the best EHRs in the world namely Epic Systems Corporation, Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, LLC, NextGen Healthcare, GE Healthcare, Athena Health, etc.
The Return on Investment
The benefits or returns on investing on an EHR system are an aggregate of the cost savings as well as the growth in revenue. Investing in an EHR can improve your practice to a great extent, in terms of the overall patient experience.
- More efficient and faster diagnosis and treatment
- Reduction in unwanted hand transcribed errors
- Elimination of problems such as misplacement of patient files
- Increased quality of patient care and patient welfare
- Privacy and confidentiality of patient data
Electronic Heath Records can therefore be the ultimate solution for efficient practice management. Setting up an EHR can be profitable in terms of revenue, but needs an initial investment to start. A thoughtful investment can help to streamline your workflow management, leaving you with some quality time to be spent with your loved ones.
Additional Read: Get your clinic up-to-date with EMR software
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