The total cost of planning, buying, implementing and operating an electronic health record-system for the first year in a five-physician primary-care practice averaged $46,659 per physician, a federally funded team of Texas researchers has concluded.
A write-up of their research, "The Financial and Nonfinancial Costs Of Implementing Electronic Health Records In Primary Care Practices” appears in the March issue of the policy journal Health Affairs.
The EHR installations studied were in 26 family and internal-medicine practices that are part of HealthTexas Provider Network, a 450-physician fee-for-service care network affiliated with the Baylor Health Care System.
The cost per physician would probably be "not generalizable to small, isolated practices or to other practice settings," according to the researchers, given that the practices studied—even though they ranged in size from two to 12 physicians—were part of a large network.
"The network in our study may be considered a best-case scenario," the report's authors wrote. "Substantial corporate support was given to individual primary-care practices for the implementation of an electronic health-record system, thereby avoiding many of the perceived barriers to implementation." On the other hand, the authors said, "Our example could also be viewed as an excessive-case scenario, as more resources than necessary may have been provided by the HealthTexas network implementation team."