This HIT worker writes:
"...one other thing that I think should be covered is the outrageous extremely overpriced ridiculously simple (I opted to use as many adjectives that came to mind) task of creating an interface in an EMR. After doing a few interfaces myself and working with about a dozen or so EMR vendors the cost is ridiculous for the amount of work they actually do.
The average cost that I've seen is about $4,000 to $6,000 USD, I've seen some that are 'free' I'll explain this one later, some upwards of $40,000+ and some in the realm of a few hundred.
Under this secret shroud of "everything is complicated and takes tons of people and costs an arm and a leg" is really a two person job that takes about three to four hours, or even less if you know what you're doing. To create an interface between two systems one person configures their application to listen on a socket, and the other to configure the application to connect to an IP and a specific socket.
This of course assumes the two systems are maintained by two different people. There is more that goes into creating an interface sure, but from an EMR point of view its two people. I've configured a [Big Vendor] interface with the vendor in 30 minutes. [Big Vendor] charges I think the number was $3,500 to $4,000 for the "Labor charge", [Big Vendor] is the 'free' one once you purchase the application you can create as many interfaces as you want.
I've yet to meet a physician, nurse or office assistant that have the know-how to create an interface. Other EMR's charge per interface as if paying $15,000 for the application wasn't enough a physician must spend another $4,000 to $6,000 for a stinking interface! Yes its important that they have it but WOW! - $4,000 to $6,000 for 30 minutes of work? Some are longer, some interfaces require more configuration's which isn't much, most any worthwhile application already has default configurations and interfaces so one could load those and not go too far over 30 minutes of work, certainly not longer than a few hours though.
Thinking of a typical practice that I've encountered, there are three general feeds:
1. General Labs - This interface would send over your microbiologies,blood tests etc.
2. Transcriptions - This interface would send over, well, transcriptions anything dictated.
3. Radiology - This interface would send over all your radiology transcriptions with the added feature of being able to handle images.
Not that I've actually seen one in action, these are all just claims right now. The sheer size of radiology images dissuades labs from sending them over the system because of bandwidth issues, also because not many interfaces currently support DICOM, or one system in the flow doesn't support DICOM.
So, if we take one of the larger EMR's, your eCW's, GE's, Misys's, Allscripts et cetera, the cost for one of these systems range from $12,000 to $15,000 that I've seen for a small practice. Then if you take the $4000 (lets be nice and give EMR's the lower number) at three interfaces for a total of $12,000 we have a system that costs $24,000 to $27,000. That's ridiculously insane for a broken system that somewhat works.
Another thing that has always got me wound up with looking at these costs are that the EMR's know their application best, they know how the HL7 data should look, but they have no way of mapping the HL7 to be compliant with their systems. So I'm forced to map it for them, I'm lucky if they have specs, and if they do they're likely out dated (I have yet to receive a spec that was not out of date by the way). Reverse engineering an application's interpretation of HL7 is insane. To be fair, some vendors do offer though to do the mapping, then again they also charged $40,000+.
I've tinkered with EMR systems when I can, some were nice, some were trash, most were trash. These applications work and look great for me, but lets face it, I'm no clinician I don't understand most of what is on the screen, I can fumble around though and figure things out. These applications are designed and developed by engineers, these applicationsonly make sense to engineers. These systems are pure trash.
Here's to taking down the shroud and smoke screen HIT has put up the past couple decades.
Feel free to post this in its entirety if it will help take down the smoke screen.
Having been a CMIO, I can vouch for these expense levels charged for interfaces that I knew, also being a computer professional, were quite simple to code.