Purchasing and implementing a dental EHR system can often be an expensive and challenging process. Besides the initial cost of software, training expenses, digitization of paper records, and delays in project implementation can often lead to significant cost overruns. Because of this, many providers question the need to implement dental EHRs in the first place.
Dental EHR implementation is a multistage process and it is very difficult to see the financial payoff initially. It takes time for doctors and other employees to get back to their previous productivity levels. Changing workflows, the need to adapt to electronic systems and devices etc. can be very disruptive and quite often, long-term benefits accrue only when the advanced features of dental EHR systems are implemented and used regularly. Many providers are only now getting ready to attest for stage I in the meaningful use program and EHR advocates predict that it is too early to see significant cost savings.
Because of these reasons, there has been a dearth of studies analyzing and identifying the cost savings obtained through the implementation of dental EHR systems. However, researchers have recently found that hospitals can save nearly 10% per patient admission due to using advanced EHRs (Study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, June 2014). After neutralizing the effects of other variables such as hospital size and patient profiles, the study found that the cost for each inpatient admission is significantly less in hospitals which meet the criteria for meaningful use (implying that they are in the advanced stage of EHR usage).
Although the study involved the analysis of data from only hospitals and not independent clinics, it is not a stretch to assume that smaller providers will also see similar savings. Poor project planning, delays in reaching project milestones and unexpected expenses can add significantly to the overall dental EHR budget, delaying the time when the project can generate enough savings to justify the high costs. The results of the study indicate that providers will have to wait to reach the advanced stage of meaningful use to see significant cost benefits from dental EHR software.
On the other hand, once the dental EHR project returns a positive ROI – it has generated enough savings to nullify the overall cost – the benefits will continue to accrue. In fact, over the long-term the cost savings and productivity improvements are expected to add up as more providers adopt such applications. Dovetail dental EHR is a cloud-based system that only involves a subscription price for the resources your clinic needs. There is no need to purchase expensive hardware or software licenses so that you can reap the benefits of dental EHR use without a large financial outlay.