Planning a Timeline & Budget for Your New EHR

In today’s technology-based world, keeping your electronic health records safe, accurate, and accessible ranks top priority with both patients and providers. Every EHR option is different, with varying strengths and integrations to fit the wide variety of practices found in the healthcare industry. It’s very likely that you and your practice already rely on an EHRbut have you chosen the right one? If your current EHR no longer fits your practice’s needs or slow or outdated, it may be time to make a switch.  

RELATED: Checklist: Preparing to Switch EMR Systems

However, changing EHRs is far from a walk in the park. One of the most important aspects of switching EHRs is properly budgeting both your practice's time and finances. Without proper research, you may find yourself in an even stickier situation, with an even less suitable EHR. Creating a timeline and realistic budget can help your practice avoid the headache of a poorly-chosen system.

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The Importance of a Timeline 

Switching EHR systems is not an event that happens overnight. Overhauling your practice’s main record-holding system takes careful planning across a number of areas. Figuring out your practice’s optimum switch dates is a good cornerstone to base the rest of your plans around. Asking questions like: 

  • Which dates will cause the least amount of disruption for your practice?  
  • How long will it take for your physicians and other staff-members to be trained on the new EHR?  
  • Are you under contract with your current EHR provider in a way that will delay your switch?  

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin creating a tangible timeline. This will help keep staff on all levels abreast of when aspects of the new system will be introduced. By keeping everyone informed and up-to-date, the risk of user error or frustration drastically drops. 

The Importance of a Budget

Having a budget in place before choosing an EHR is equally as important as a timeline. EHR systems vary in pricing, and it’s important to be aware of your practice’s pricing limitations . Preparing a budget can help your practice avoid draining financial resources, as well as limiting yourself from choosing a system outside of your practice’s means. Health Data Management recommends the following items when preparing a budget: 

  • Estimate the build costs of the EHR, including the costs of building additional modules 
  • Consider compensation—both financially and time-wise—for physicians involved in implementing the new system 
  • Calculate the need for additional production support staff, extended support hours, and additional tools 
  • Research investments required on potential new interfaces 
  • Estimate data conversion costs 
  • Review the cost of any necessary software licenses  
  • Pricing on potential hardware items 
  • Allotting 10 percent of the project budget for a backup plan 

Additionally, you should consider that many vendors require different methods of payment, from paying the total cost upfront to monthly payment plans. Regardless of which type of system you choose, getting a written quote can help your practice avoid hidden fees and surcharges. 

By preparing a timeline and budget, your practice will be much more prepared to adapt to its new--and hopefully more efficient--EHR. 

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