Free EMR Software?

Is there really such a  thing as “free EMR”? We thought this article posted at http://www.emrapproved.com/free-emr-software.php was worth reading if you are considering this option.

Free EMR Software vs. Standard License or Subscription License Models

A number of free EMR software systems like Practice Fusion™ exist on the market today. But what exactly does FREE mean?

“FREE” essentially means that this is an advertisement supported EHR solution. Therefore you will see advertisements from vendors interested in selling to the medical community while you work. The ads may be distracting to some users. The savings may be worth that distraction for others.

Remove the ads

“FREE” essentially means that this is an advertisement supported EHR solution. Therefore you will see advertisements from vendors interested in selling to the medical community while you work. The ads may be distracting to some users. The savings may be worth that distraction for others.

If you wish to remove those ads, you will instead pay a per month [fee].

What is “Not at all FREE” in this free EMR?

The free EHR does not include an integrated billing module. You will need to export the billing information on a periodic basis and send it to your billing company or system (and be sure to check out the compatibility of your billing system to receive the billing information from your new free EMR system).

If you use a PM system in-house, you will find that your patient scheduling information is now split between the EMR and PM system with no way to synchronize them. Or in some cases you can pay an additional monthly fee per payer provider to include their billing component.

Is the training and EMR support also FREE?

The training and support “included” with your free subscriptions are often inadequate for most practices. Industry-wide it is understood that most practices moving from paper to electronic will require a bit more hand-holding than the FREE e-mail or online reply to inquiry level of assistance. Additional fee offerings here, may also open doors to more substantive assistance (depending upon the vendor). Those with strong technical capabilities may find the system easy to follow – though practices with low technical competency might struggle.

Is there a catch?

With “free” or “reduced price” alternatives such as this one, the vendor reserves the right to sell the data that is collected in the course of hundreds of physicians charting patient visits. Of course, the data is sanitized so as to remove any and all attributes that help identify a patient. This is a sensitive topic but begins to explain how the whole “free” idea came about. As these companies are not 501c3 organizations, they are in the business of business. And therefore will find a way to profit from your participation. If your tolerance level for shared information and advertising outweighs your financial concerns, you may find these alternatives a good option.

How does this service differ from the paid alternatives?

Many of the features will be similar; however with the more robust standard alternatives – you pay for the benefit of certification, added functionality and privacy. More services are also generally available via these paid software options. Higher level implementation, training and support. A wider selection of connectivity. As well as a host of add-on features which can give your practice a more robust electronic experience.

Can I easily switch from one service to another?

This is not a simple answer. At this time, most migrations from one EMR data source to another can be cumbersome, flawed and expensive. Switching mid-stream involves data conversion which can add significant cost to the process. The time could also set your practice back on the timeline to meaningful use qualification.

What do you think?

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