How Much Does Hospital Management Software Cost?
To handle all aspects of hospital operation, you need the automation capabilities of a good hospital management software system, preferably one tailor-made for hospitals. The goal is finding a single platform to manage each department. The right system includes a wide variety of information and makes it available to users across the facility.
Important Considerations when Choosing Management Software
Your system must include real-time information on bed allocation, doctors and staffing, inpatient and outpatient data, inventories, and more. Vendors often offer customizable solutions that you may configure and modify to meet your specific, unique needs. In addition, you want it to integrate fully with your current systems.
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Some features are basic necessities for seamless operation:
- Patient information: your patient database must update in real-time and include all inpatient and outpatient information, including treatment history. The system must also ensure data security and confidentiality.
- Staff scheduling: manage doctor availability, as well as staff management and duty allocation.
- Lab equipment: manage and maintain equipment records.
- Bed allocation: manage both bed and ward allocation.
- Inventory management: manage current stock, including a warning system for when it's time to replenish.
- Accounting and billing: offer accurate billing, including appropriate coding, and a full suite of financial reports.
A proper understanding of your hospital's business requirements is a great help in determining your software needs. For example, a smaller facility has very different requirements from a large hospital.
Costs of a Hospital Management Software System
Estimating these costs is difficult, as so many variables affect pricing, including the size of the practice, number of users, and system features. The greatest determiner, though, is probably whether you choose a cloud-based solution (also known as software as a service, or SaaS), or a software-based one. The range of prices is a fairly dramatic one: between $15,000 and $70,000 per provider.
HealthIT.gov and the Regional Extension Centers provide some estimated average costs, though.
For an in-office, self-hosted solution, estimated upfront costs are $33,000, with a $4,000 per year cost. The annual costs are per user. A cloud-based solution averages $26,000 for upfront costs with a yearly cost at $8,000. As with the software system, annual costs are per user.
Implementing an electronic health record (EHR) system requires five components: EHR software, hardware, implementation assistance, training, and ongoing fees and maintenance of your network. Totaling the costs of each of these components gives you the estimate of your entire system cost.
These costs include the application itself, interface modules such as lab interfaces, and any upgrades to your chosen application. Though the prices listed above work as averages, they don't provide much of an estimate, since prices range between $5,000 for startup costs on a cloud-based system, to $50,000 and more for a software-based system.
An SaaS system charges monthly fees for each user, and these range between $300 and $500. If you choose to purchase software, you must also purchase a license for each user. These range between $1,500 and $3,500 per year, per user. Most vendors offer discounts as the number of users rises.
Hardware includes all of the equipment you need that does not include the system itself: servers, desktop computers or laptops, tablets, printers, and scanners. Servers have experienced significant price reductions in recent years. You can now find them starting at around $500, though expect to pay closer to $1,000. You also need Ethernet switches and wires, as well as a backup hard drive. Add another $500 to $1,000 to your total cost for these items.
These costs include those incurred to implement the system, such as an attorney, IT contractor, installation, and workflow redesign.
All users require training on the new system to ensure proper implementation, as well as taking full advantage of the features and capabilities. Training includes both use and the new workflows the EHR creates.
Ongoing Fees and Maintenance of Network
You have a variety of ongoing costs, such as software licenses, hardware repair and replacement, telecom fees, and IT support. You may even decide to hire permanent IT staff to maintain the system and equipment.
Talk to a Vendor
Get an accurate estimate by talking to a variety of vendors, so you can compare your options. You want to know what features come with the standard package, as well as what kinds of charges accompany any upgrades you need. In addition, ask about technical support. Preferably, it includes simple online support through chat and email, as well as easily-researched answers to common issues.
Don't forget to look at user reviews to learn what the practical, day-to-day reality of the system is. Give extra weight to recent feedback, as well. Technology changes quickly. A two-year-old review of a system is likely outdated.