The financial and nonfinancial costs of implementing electronic health records in primary care practices

Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 Mar;30(3):481-9. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0768.


The incentives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand the "meaningful use" of electronic health record systems have many health care professionals searching for information about the cost and staff resources that such systems require. We report the cost of implementing an electronic health record system in twenty-six primary care practices in a physician network in north Texas, taking into account hardware and software costs, as well as the time and effort invested in implementation. For an average five-physician practice, implementation cost an estimated $162,000, with $85,500 in maintenance expenses during the first year. We also estimate that the HealthTexas network implementation team and the practice implementation team needed 611 hours, on average, to prepare for and implement the electronic health record system, and that "end users"-physicians, other clinical staff, and nonclinical staff-needed 134 hours per physician, on average, to prepare for use of the record system in clinical encounters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Electronic Health Records / economics*
  • Group Practice / economics*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Texas
  • United States