To say that it can be difficult to clearly understand the differences in total cost of ownership for one electronic medical record (EMR) system versus another is an understatement. For many healthcare organizations, the total cost of EMR system ownership and the quality of their relationships with their suppliers are impacted by a number of “gotchas” — hidden costs discovered after they have signed the contract.
In a well-publicized example, an EMR project for the California state prison system — projected to cost $182 million USD in 2013 — more than doubled to $386.5 million because officials did not initially understand the implementation requirements. By late 2016, they had been hit with over $200 million in hidden costs. These hidden costs included spending for additional computer hardware, system maintenance, software for scheduling appointments and storing dental records, and unanticipated user training.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Despite the challenges involved, organizations need to understand the broader costs associated with different EMR systems. Only then can they ask the right questions and avoid unexpected costs. This paper aims to highlight the key areas of potential hidden costs that providers should consider when embarking on an EMR implementation.