Monday, February 6, 2012

EMR Cost Averages $30,000 per Doctor

A recent report released by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) shows the percentages of medical practices using an EMR system and the level of complexity of the software. The study also reveals that the average EMR cost a physician pays for their system and how it reflects on the performance of the practice.

MGMA’s report, Performance Practices of Successful Medical Groups, surveyed medical practices with three or more physicians on their level of EMR implementation. Already, 51% of practices polled have an EMR in use. According to a similar study by the government, 34% of those with an EMR are reported to be using a “basic EMR”, meaning it only contains patient history, demographics, diagnoses, medications and allergies. MGMA reports only 56% of respondents’ EMRs have functions like problem list generation and drug interaction alerts, which are included as Meaningful Use criteria. Todd Evenson, the assistant-director of survey operations for MGMA-ACPE, stated that the government financial incentives are driving many physicians to replace their basic EMR with one that meets Meaningful Use.

The survey also demonstrates the correlation between the performance level of the practices surveyed and their EMR cost. On average, the better performing practices spent about $30,000 per physician for their software system, whereas others spent about $20,000. The success of the practice is not actually determined by the price of the EMR, but rather the practices’ investment in training and maintenance. The high performers spent about $540 per month on maintenance versus the $500 the average practice spends. "An EHR can have advanced functionality, but if the staff and the physicians don't know how to utilize the product, it makes no difference whether it can perform a function or not," said Evenson.

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