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Compare EMR Software vs EHR Software Costs

EMR Software Overview

EMR and EHR are often confused. Many people, even some health professionals, mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. But EMR and EHR are not one in the same.

Electronic medical records (EMR) are essentially digital versions of a patient’s paper chart. They contain all of the information about a patient’s medical history within a single practice or health organization.

In addition to tracking patient data, EMR software is used to manage and make decisions about a patient’s health care. The software keeps track of when patients are due for checkups, and it monitors how statistics such as blood pressure or cholesterol change over time. In many cases, the software also keeps track of scheduling and billing, and allows doctors to send prescriptions to the pharmacy electronically.

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How Much Does EMR Software Cost?

EMR software vendors have varying methods of determining pricing. Often, the total cost is based on the number of practitioners, the number of total users or the number of computers on which the software is installed. The price is also influenced by the modules you select - adding a billing feature, for example, might come at an extra cost.

Licensing fees for traditional, on-premise EMR software usually range between $1,500 and $5,000 per provider. A small practice might spend $10,000 for all the required software and hardware, while a mid-sized practice could spend $50,000 or more.

The other option is web-based software, also known as cloud-based or Software as a Service (SaaS). With this option, there’s no hardware to install because all of the data is hosted on the vendor’s servers. Most SaaS vendors charge monthly fees of up to $500 per provider or user, as well as a setup fee of $1,000 to $3,000. But some charge based on how often you use the software, assessing a small fee for each patient record that is added or updated.

EMR Software Pros

  • Easier to implement - The transition to any type of electronic records involves a significant learning curve. However, the transition to EMR tends to be easier than the transition to EHR because the software is not as complex. You only have to worry about sharing information within the office, not with other providers.
  • Price - EMR tends to be less expensive.

EMR Software Cons

  • No collaboration - Adopting EMR software does wonders in advancing paper-based offices into the modern era. But the benefits are limited to that single office, provider or organization. EMR software does not allow for collaboration from one provider to the next.
  • Shortsighted - Eventually, all health care providers will adopt EHR systems. If you’re opting for EMR now, plan on having the replace or upgrade the software with EHR in the not-too-distant future.

EHR Software Overview

Electronic health records (EHR) do all of the same things - plus much more. EHRs are designed to share patient records beyond a single practice or health organization. Records are shared among all of the providers that participate in a patient’s health care, including hospitals, laboratories and specialists - even nursing homes or the government. EHRs also allow patients to participate in documenting their medical history.

EHRs contain a much more comprehensive set of data about a patient’s overall health than EMRs. However, for EHR to be successful, each participating health care provider must have an EMR in place.

How Much Does EHR Software Cost?

This is where the distinction between EHR and EMR gets trickier. EHR tends to be more expensive because the software is more robust and complex. But some vendors that sell EMR are simply re-labeling their products as EHR to make the software appear new and improved.

To make sure you’re not getting ripped off, only purchase EHR software that has been certified by a federally-approved testing organization. Keep in mind, however, that the software vendor has to pay to earn official EHR certification. Chances are, those costs will be passed on to you.

EHR Software Pros

  • Collaboration - Far and away, the greatest advantage of EHR is the ability for health care providers to communicate with one another. Better communication leads to better patient care.
  • Patient participation - With EHR, each patient is an active participant in his or her health care. This also leads to better patient care.
  • Federal incentives - The U.S. government provides incentives to health care providers and hospitals with certified EHR software. Under the program, the government makes additional Medicare and Medicaid payments to providers when they adopt, upgrade or “demonstrate meaningful use” of EHR technology.

EHR Software Cons

  • Slow implementation - Health care providers have been slower than expected to adopt EHR, largely because of the cost and training requirements. This creates a problem because in order for your EHR system to be effective, other providers that treat your patients also need to have EHR.
  • Privacy concerns - Not surprisingly, the sharing of medical information among health care providers has ignited some privacy concerns. The idea of the government having access to those records makes some people particularly uncomfortable.

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Author: Ashley Smith


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