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Financial returns of implementing a digital solution have traditionally been measured by organizations in terms of cost and savings and quantifiable benefits. Their approach towards IT has been to follow the same philosophy used to justify typical capital investment projects. They tended to focus on payback period and total cost of ownership. Unfortunately, measuring actual return on investment (ROI) and financial bottom lines can be difficult, especially in a field such as medicine where it may be hard to put a price tag on such intangibles as enhanced patient safety, improved quality of care, patient trust, and physician recruitment and retention.

If we start with direct financial savings, there are tangible areas we can see a direct impact. For each sheet of paper used, a company incurs not only purchasing costs, but also storage, copying, printing, postage, disposal, and recycling-and it adds up. A recent study estimates that associated paper costs could be as much as 31 times the purchasing costs (not including labor). Average medical office uses approximately 150 sq ft of filing space per physican; space that can be better utilized as additional examination rooms or office space. Staff associated with filing and records maintenance can either be reduced or restructured in a more cost-effective avenue. Streamlining insurance, Medicare and government paperwork can positively impact your labor and material costs and reduce costly errors.

Intangible savings that you need to consider are in the areas of increased effeciencies. Early studies show that practices can see on average 35 - 45% more patients using a digital solution compared to traditional paper-based systems. These time effeciencies could translate to either the ability to see more patients per day or an increase in the quality of patient interaction which has a direct effect on patient satisfaction. As more practices convert to the digital office and improve the patient experience, those who resist the conversion will find themselves experiencing less revenue as well as rising costs associated with traditional paper-based practices.

Automating physician practice office and implementation of EHR in practice offices is not a choice any more, it is a necessity to stay in business and continue to provide quality care.