According to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009, all healthcare providers had to use electronic medical records (EMRs) by 2014. Followed by the more comprehensive electronic health records (EHR) by 2015 or risk losing money. Furthermore, this situation encourages health informatics, and it’s in everyone’s interest to use this discipline effectively.
Medical Records software costs from about $1,000 to $10,000 depending on your requirements. Additionally, the installation cost of EMR systems for a practice of five physicians ranges from $25,000 to $35,000. With monthly running costs of $4,000 to $8,000.
No-one can dispute the high-security needs of good EMR software. You need a secure location for all healthcare records yet allow authorized users easy access to keep your patients healthy. Therefore, it’ll come as no surprise that you need a system that uses your time efficiently and improves your standard of care. Comparing EMR software and choosing the right one can help your business save on costs. You may find the cheapest software available, but this isn’t necessarily the best. Instead, always choose the system that provides the best value for money. This involves keeping your current patients happy and encouraging new ones to join your practice. And you do this by improving working efficiency.
Usually, computerized EMR prices look expensive. But, that’s because of all the manhours put into the development of such a robust system. However, a typical medium-sized practice can probably recoup its investment in around three years. So isn’t it worthwhile changing over to one of the new EMR suites giving you medical records software for patients?
Comparing EMR System Providers*
The table below gives quick price comparisons of some of the top US providers for Electronic Medical Records Systems.
|Provider||Free Plan (Y or N)||Cheapest Paid Plan|
|CareCloud||N||Not stated. Price on application|
|ClinicsPro||Y||Not stated. Price on application|
|DrChrono||N||Not stated. Price on application|
|Fits America Platform||N||$1,500/one-time|
|Intelligent Medical Software||N||$199/month|
|Modernizing Medicine||N||Not stated. Price on application|
|TotalMD||N||Not stated. Price on application|
* The facts and figures included here come from each company’s website and were accurate at the time of writing (February 2021). But, some may have changed since then. Furthermore, please remember these may not be apples-to-apples comparisons of EMR software as each provider offers different solutions. For example, some providers include purely medical record-keeping, while others provide billing software or issuing of ePresciptions. Only use this guide as a starting point for more research on your part. Note that we don’t recommend any particular provider, and they’re in no specific order other than alphabetic.
EMR Software Cost Factors
The above table highlights the vast price range of various types of EMR services. Thus, making it very difficult to compare the cost of electronic medical records systems.
The cost of EMR software varies depending on a few different factors and which features you need for your practice.
On-premise vs. cloud
The difference is whether the software sits on your practice’s computers or whether you access it from the manufacturer’s servers via an app. On-premise requires a dedicated team of IT professionals employed by you to run and maintain the software. In contrast, the manufacturer handles the installation, maintenance, and downtime of cloud EMR software. Cloud–based systems are generally cheaper to install and run. But, over 5 or 10 years, on-premise systems will be more cost–effective. Typically, cloud–based software would be more suitable for small practices. In contrast, on-premise software would suit hospitals or large healthcare centers.
Medical records need enhanced security, which generally is no great problem if you have everything under your roof. However, if you decide on cloud–based systems, check that the company can handle the security level you expect. End-to-end encryption has now reached a point where security is no longer a problem. But, if you need extra protection, go for on-premise systems.
Up-front vs. monthly costs
As part of the up-front costs, you need to consider whether to buy new machines to run the software. You might need:
- Computers for desk-based personnel.
- And mobile devices such as tablets for doctors and nurses working directly with patients.
The increased network size also requires upgraded WiFi to handle the extra connections.
Once installed, you must pay running costs for the software. This doesn’t only mean equipment maintenance; it also includes:
- Monthly subscriptions.
- Network costs.
- Wages for your in-house IT team.
- And other related expenses.
Generally, total monthly expenditure can reach as high as $8,000. This expenditure might seem excessive at first glance. But, the increased administrative efficiency and ease of access to medical records will soon bring new patients.
Hidden costs include loss of productivity incurred during the change-over while your staff learns the new system. But, if you’re expecting these problems, you can plan for them and reduce their effects.
Electronic Medical Records Price Plans & Fees
The difference in EMR prices also depends on which type of plan you agree with your software provider.
This monthly or annual payment rate is the most common type of electronic medical records pricing model. Usually, this is a regular payment covering:
- Software use.
- Online customer support.
But, training and installation might cost more. In comparison, you might find a provider that charges a one-time fee for the software license plus a monthly charge for maintenance and support.
Suppose you decide to buy your EMR software from a company that produces other types, such as medical billing software. In that case, they might offer a deal for using their entire software bundle.
Finally, pay-per-provider EMR services are usually a cloud or web-based EMR system rather than an on-premise. Usual monthly costs for these solutions range from $300 to $700 and would suit a small to medium–sized practice.
License Fee (one–time payment)
Usually, software companies that supply in-office solutions charge a one-off license fee, plus a monthly maintenance contract. This type of model usually includes on-site data servers for managing the large network and medical record storage. Therefore, providers target hospitals and large healthcare practices. Systems such as these are usually custom–built to suit individual circumstances and requirements. Hence, prices aren’t usually publicly advertised. However, a medium–sized practice of fewer than ten practitioners will pay up-front costs of between $25,000 and $35,000. Moreover, they’ll also pay about $400 per month for IT support. In contrast, a full–sized hospital might pay many millions of dollars.
Additionally, you might need to pay for a one-time software license and run training sessions for your staff.
Less common plans
You might also find providers who charge for the number of patients you have or by the number of patient visits. Cheaper still, you’ll find free EMR software or open–source suites. But, these affordable solutions will lack the gloss, features, and encrypted security of paid software. Furthermore, they might not comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIIPA) requirements, so check before installing.
Budgeting for EMR Systems Implementation
Purchasing EMR software can be a minefield if you don’t know what’s available or how to use it. So, you need specialist help when deciding on incorporating it into your medical practice.
It’s also very important to consider the full cost of EMR implementation. Furthermore, budgeting for software and the other peripheral costs will take a lot of work.
Depending on the size of your practice, you’ll need computers or other devices that can access and handle the software. Probably, if you decide on cloud–based EMR, you can use standard tablets for mobile work and off-the-shelf computers for desk-based work. All it needs is sufficient processing power to handle the app and download medical records as required.
Additionally, you’ll need networking hardware to cope with the increased data traffic and a VPN to improve cloud security. And, of course, hardware backups if the WiFi router goes down or the devices stop working.
These days, most people can operate a computer or other device. However, you need specialist staff training to use on-premise and web-based electronic medical record systems.
Support – Legal/IT
Now and again, hardware and software stop working, resulting in loss of productivity. Therefore you must put in place maintenance contracts and 24/7 IT support if you want things to continue working properly. Most software companies offer support for a price, and it’s up to you to sort out the best support you can afford. Similarly, have a hardware maintenance team on stand-by in case devices stop working.
Remember you are handling patients’ confidential records, so you must have legal and insurance support. This support is in case of security breaches or mistakes in patients’ diagnoses due to faulty software.
We’ve already spoken about the different types of software plans available. Usually, providers provide off-the-shelf quotes for small systems. But, they prefer to build custom packages for large-scale users and hospitals.
Other – any other costs
Suppose your EMR provider offers other software. Examples could be:
- Practice management systems.
- Medical billing.
- Pharmacy stock control.
In that case, it might save you money to ditch standalone software and buy an entire package. Therefore, you will have to write-off previously used products from other manufacturers.
EMR System Benefits
Purchasing EMR software provides benefits to all healthcare practices, whether large or small. Healthcare practitioners can continue to help patients stay healthy rather than worry about billing, insurance claim processing, and all the other admin tasks necessary within a medical practice.
- In particular, the software offers speedy and efficient information management. It allows medical staff to do what they’re good at, helping people.
- EMRs are databases with a user-friendly front end. They’re designed specifically for handling medical records. And, allow information sharing with multiple practitioners simultaneously.
- There’s a lot of information stored in an EMR that many people might want to access. Depending on the EMR pricing plan, a doctor or nurse accesses records from a tablet at the patient’s bedside. Simultaneously, the admin staff prepares the bill at a workstation, or radiologists upload scan details.
- All records relating to a patient are available immediately. A doctor can access scans and blood results as soon as they are uploaded.
Purchasing EMR Software: Top Tips
- Define what software your practice needs. There are so many different types of EMR software available with many distinct features. It makes sense to decide beforehand what you’re looking for.
- Make a shortlist of providers. The list allows you to discard those who don’t provide what you need or specialize in different–sized practices.
- Your practice must comply with government regulations. So disregard those vendors who don’t have appropriate security certification.
- Arrange for a demonstration of the software by the vendor. Include front-line staff at the presentation because they are the people who will use it and whose opinion counts.
EMR vs. EHR Systems
Although similar, an EMR is different from an EHR.
An EMR is the digital collection of notes relating to a person’s medical history. It shouldn’t be shared with non-medical users. An EMR offers ease of tracking a patient’s medical data, reminders of screenings and check-ups, and overall better patient care.
In comparison, an EHR uses the same information but presents it in a form suitable for sharing with other practitioners who don’t need detailed information. For example, reporting a patient’s health overview from the following sources:
HIPAA Compliance & Regulation
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) specifies the people who can access a patient’s medical records. In effect, a healthcare provider’s obligations with patient privacy remain unchanged. But, the Act adds slight adjustments to consider electronic storage and retrieval. HIPAA compliance also requires medical practitioners to keep records for at least six years, or longer if state laws require it. Compliance also requires patient authorization before sharing the information with a third party. There are exceptions to this, as there always has been. For example, deceased patients, minors, and information requests via a subpoena.
The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) was an organization set up in 2004 by the:
- American Health Information Management Association.
- The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
- And The National Alliance for Health Information Technology.
In 2005, the US Department of Health and Human Services tasked the CCHIT with producing a certification process so that medical IT could be regulated and become more easily available.
Electronic Medical Records Q&A
What are the advantages of electronic medical records over paper ones?
EMRs are more secure than paper ones and are more easily stored. They also provide accountability as each entry can be traced back to a specific person.
How do I protect my electronic medical records?
As with all computerized information, use strong and different passwords, and store them in a password manager. Use a different email address when dealing with your healthcare provider so that hackers can’t use it for any other purpose. Ask who will share your medical records and where they will be stored. If you aren’t happy about your healthcare provider’s security, change to a more secure one.
Are electronic medical records safe?
Electronic records are safer than old–fashioned paper records because authorized users need a username and password to access the software. But, as with paper records, they aren’t 100% secure. One of the most recent security advances is to use voice recognition software to limit accessibility to authorized users.
Can patients opt out of electronic medical records?
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act calls for everyone in the USA to have an EHR. With healthcare providers receiving financial incentives to make this happen. However, individual Americans can choose not to have an EHR if they so wish.
How do I remove a wrong diagnosis from my medical records?
Although having a wrong diagnosis on your medical records can be infuriating, you should not remove them. Instead, make additions to the diagnosis stating reasons why things have changed. The changes might be because the original diagnosis was correct at the time, based on current information. But with more information or advances in medical knowledge, another diagnosis might be possible.
Having said that, if the patient doesn’t agree with a diagnosis, they can send a message to the doctor requesting to remove the entry. The patient must provide reasons to justify their request. If the doctor doesn’t agree, then a patient may appeal to the medical records management department of the medical organization where the doctor works.
Using EMR systems will improve your practice’s efficiency, attract new patients, and provide financial incentives from the US government. So, why continue to use traditional paper and ink records?
Suppose you’re worried about electronic medical records costs. In that case, there are many affordable systems available, with features suitable for your practice. So, complete the form at the top of the page, and you’ll receive 3 or 4 quotes for an EMR system perfect for you.
Jason is a B2B sales veteran spanning 3 decades and Founder of ApprovedCosts. Jason has scaled sales and marketing teams at a variety of enterprises and is a recognized expert in the field. Jason holds an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business.