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Dec 13, 2010

CDW Healthcare Survey: EHR Price Tag May Reach $120K Per Physician; Speeding Changes to Workflow Most Important Factor in Reducing Costs

CDW Healthcare Survey: EHR Price Tag May Reach $120K Per Physician; Speeding Changes to Workflow Most Important Factor in Reducing CostsVERNON HILLS, Ill. – December 13, 2010 – CDW Healthcare, part of the public sector subsidiary of CDW LLC, today announced the results of a national survey and six-month study on the complete cost of electronic health record (EHR) adoption for physician practices. The study found that inclusive of equipment, software, services, training time and potential lost revenue, physician practices may face total EHR adoption costs of $120,000 per physician. The speed with which a practice fully implements the EHR and shifts to the new, accelerated workflow is critical to reducing the overall cost of adoption.

As the primary driver of cost, physicians expect to see patient encounters decline in the year of adoption by an average of 10 percent. Following adoption, however, physician practices will also directly benefit from EHR-based workflow improvements that enable them to see more patients.

“The most important factor in reducing the cost of EHR implementation is accelerating through the workflow changes,” said Bob Rossi, vice president of CDW Healthcare. “The quicker practices can reach full adoption, the quicker they will reach the positive side of the cost curve.”

CDW Healthcare’s “Physician Practice EHR Price Tag” study is based upon a survey of 200 physician practices that have not yet adopted an EHR throughout the United States, secondary research on physician practice workflow and CDW Healthcare’s internal data on EHR solutions. Overall, physician practices are focused on the costs associated with EHR adoption, citing their primary concerns as hardware/software costs (66 percent), time associated with staff training (52 percent) and workflow readjustment (43 percent). Although physicians’ top concern is hardware and software, the CDW Healthcare study found that year one expenses associated with that category of cost will likely make up just 12 percent of total EHR adoption costs.

In contrast, CDW Healthcare found that lost revenue will be a far larger drain on physician practices than hardware and software costs. Physician practices said they expect patient encounters to fall by an average of 10 percent in the first year, equating to a total average revenue loss of more than $100,000 per physician. Although 10 percent is the survey average, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they expect patient encounters to fall by 25 percent or more in the first year, representing the possibility of greater potential revenue loss.

“Survey responses indicate that physicians are worried about the costs of hardware and software components when they should focus on implementing a complete solution that reduces the time lost to workflow changes,” said Rossi. “While a typical practice will have a greater investment than expected, the payoff will be significant.”

Critically, while physician practices expect to reduce patient encounters in the year of adoption, an EHR-enhanced workflow will continue to enable more patient encounters in all subsequent years. Some studies have estimated this patient encounter increase to be as high as 30 percent. Using a more conservative measure of a 15 percent increase in patient encounters, the “Physician Practice EHR Price Tag” study estimates that practices may be able to gain as much as $151,000 per physician per year in new revenue once adoption is complete.

Based upon a snapshot of the average physician practice’s IT infrastructure, CDW Healthcare also identified opportunities to either speed adoption or reduce costs:

  • Upgrade vs. Replace: The average age of physician practice workstations is less than three years, with 20 percent less than one year old, CDW Healthcare’s survey found. As such, practices may achieve better results by upgrading existing workstations with system memory, drive space, backup processes and wireless access points to extend the lifecycle of existing workstation deployments
  • Protect yourself: Notably, 30 percent of respondents did not use antivirus software and 34 percent did not use network firewalls. To protect IT investments and patient information, physician practices moving to EHRs will need to significantly improve their security and business continuity profiles
  • Train and train some more: Twenty-two percent of survey respondents indicate that they will spend at least 10 hours training staff to use the new EHR system. Because training programs are included in the cost of many EHR software packages, practices should take advantage of every training opportunity as a way of accelerating adoption

A full copy of CDW Healthcare’s Physician Practice EHR Price Tag is available at www.cdw.com/EHRPriceTag. Additional information on CDW Healthcare and its EHR solutions is available at www.CDW.com/CommunIT.

About CDW Healthcare
CDW Healthcare is a leading provider of technology solutions focused exclusively on serving the healthcare marketplace. Working closely with more than 15,000 healthcare organizations nationwide, its customers range from small rural providers to large integrated delivery networks. The dedicated healthcare team leverages the expertise of CDW technology specialists and engineers to deliver best-in-class solutions from data center infrastructure through to point of patient care. The company’s technology specialists and engineers offer expertise in designing customized solutions, while its advanced technology engineers assist customers with the implementation and long-term management of those solutions. Areas of focus include notebooks, desktops, printers, servers and storage, unified communications, security, wireless, power and cooling, networking, software licensing and mobility solutions.

CDW is ranked No. 38 on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies.