Cloud-Based EMR Systems Require Careful Budget, Experts Say

Cloud-based EMR systems may provide a less expensive alternative to those practices wishing to implement such a system.

In a recent article posted on the American Medical Assocation’s news website, American Medical News, several experts were interviewed to discuss the hidden costs associated with implementing an electronic medical records (EMR) system. However, cloud-based EMR systems may provide a less expensive alternative to those practices wishing to implement such a system. Even so, there are still several expenses associated with keeping a cloud-based EMR system up and running.

In an interview, Matthew Grob, a health information technology consultant, said that practices should be aware that pre-implementation costs, connectivity, data security, and technical support all add to the expense of a cloud-based EMR system. Grob said that reliability should take precedence over cost, and that multiple connections, such as one DSL connection and one cable connection, should also be considered. Additionally, Grob said practices should be aware of call centers and make sure that their service hours match those of the practice if there is a connectivity issue.

In another interview, Chuck Clark, chief information officer at Coastal Family Health Center, said that training costs are often underestimated or overlooked. Practices looking to implement cloud-based EMR should consider the travel expenses, hourly rates, and food expenditures associated with bringing in a training program.

Finally, Lynette Ferrara, partner at Computer Science Corporation’s Health Informatics practice, said that many practices fail to formulate a clear conversion plan from a paper-based system to an electronic system. Temporary employees may be required to scan older documents in order to transfer information to the new cloud-based system.

In the interview, Ferrera said that practices must account for how a new system will affect productivity, since a learning curve associated with a new system will likely reduce productivity in the beginning, so making more of an upfront investment in pre-implementation costs might alleviate delays in compliance and acceptance by a practice’s employees.

In terms of budgeting for a cloud-based EMR system, Ferrara said practices should “set your own goals, of not just making more money, but improving quality and safety and making sure whatever vendor you choose helps you achieve those goals.”