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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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What do I need to know before I search for money?

Implementing health information technologies, such as EHRs, can be a very expensive undertaking.  There are numerous additional costs associated with the acquisition of the system apart from purchasing the software and hardware, such as expenditures for implementation, training, conversion, interfacing, system back-up, maintenance and more.  Furthermore, the acquiring of a new health IT system also poses the opportunity to add clinical features, to enhance security, and to improve flexibility of access, but at a price.

In addition to identifying the direct costs associated with implementing a system, an organization should examine critically both direct and indirect costs and benefits before implementing a particular solution.  When conducting a cost and benefit analysis, the organization should consider the financial impact of changes in staff workload.  For example, staff that normally spent hours filing charts could be used for other tasks once a system is implemented--thus, this is a benefit.  However, training time and other activities related to maintenance of the system can contribute to additional costs.  Completing a careful analysis of the total cost of ownership can enable identification of these costs.    

Once you have made the decision to implement a system, finding funding opportunities will require a dedicated effort on the part of the whole organization.  No easy way exists to incorporate the pursuit of additional financing into the already busy schedules of clinicians and executives working in health settings.  The cost of finding new funding sources can be high in most cases as key staff is required to put in significant time in the form of proposal writing, online searching, pulling together loan applications and networking.  Provider organizations, health centers and hospitals that are successful in procuring funds from various sources have leaders that are continuously searching for new funding opportunities and are able to identify and pursue a steady stream of potential sources in the course of their daily schedule.

Additional Resources on EHR costs and benefits:

Additional Resources on total cost of ownership (TCO):

Additional Resources for rural health organizations:

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
Health Information Technology Toolboxes help health centers, safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers with electronic and online resources and technical assistance to improve patient care.  More>
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