A senior person at a Regional Extension Center (REC) summed up their primary goal with healthcare practices recently by saying “Make them amongst the willing”, in describing the fundamental push to get healthcare practitioners to select an EHR system. In other words, keep the decision as simple as possible. The saying that “Every journey begins with the first step” seems to hold true here.  And certainly, other factors can be addressed over time as the installation matures on the road towards meaningful use.

But a report just issued by Mark Anderson and the AC Group raises some important decisions that should be addressed when purchasing and deploying an EHR system. What is the cost to a healthcare practice when their EHR system is down?  What is the expected uptime of the system that will run the EHR software? This new report is based upon studies conducted with live EHR deployments, and analyzes the impact on productivity and costs when the system was not available.

For example, ten hours of electronic healthcare record (EHR) system downtime in a year could cost the average 20-physician practice nearly $100,000, yet 87% of medical practices ignore vendor service level agreements and uptime requirements when purchasing EHR system software.

AC Group suggests that EMR systems meet today’s requirements for high availability – less than one hour of unplanned downtime per year – which raises the table stakes for most decisions being made by healthcare practitioners.   It requires that the decision process also focus on the uptime for systems that will run the EHR application. Healthcare practitioners should ask for a solution that’s designed to provide high availability – that’s understood to be 99.99% or greater system availability. Traditional servers, even clustered servers, fall short of this mark, while Stratus meets or exceeds this benchmark for EHR system uptime.

The full report on “The Costs and Implications of EHR System Downtime on Physician Practices”, by Mark Anderson of AC Group, is available at http://go.stratus.com/ACgroup_Paper .