Thursday, June 18, 2009

Searching for a Free EMR or EHR?

The keywords "free EMR" are still going into Google every day. EMR = electronic medical record. I prefer to use EHR = electronic health record. I get a fair amount of traffic to this site from people who type "free EMR" into Google and they land here because my site is on the first page of search results.

As this country moves forward with healthcare reform and hospitals, clinics, and offices implement electronic health records (EHRs), some are still looking for a free option. There are some free EHRs that are certified by CCHIT (Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology), so does it make sense to choose a free option? I've been thinking about this issue and here are some of my thoughts:
  • If you're a solo physician and you're struggling to survive because of reduced and delayed reimbursement from managed care, then perhaps you should go with a free EHR. There's no point in investing over $40k in an EHR just to declare bankruptcy. (by the way, they're not all that expensive)
  • If you're completing residency soon and you're about to embark on your own and start a brand new solo practice from scratch, then maybe you should go with a free EHR and then switch to a different system in several years once you've generated some revenue.
  • If you're getting really close to retirement and you want to play around with EHRs just for fun, then maybe you should try a free EHR.
  • If you're a solo physician using paper records and you're planning on retiring within the next 5 or so years, then it might make sense to invest in a free EHR. I say "might" because there are obviously multiple factors at stake and I am not making any recommendations here.
The honest truth is that I really don't know how free EHRs will evolve over the coming years. I don't think anyone really knows. Some free EHRs are really simply "lite" versions of the software and you won't qualify for "meaningful use" if you're using these versions. Other free EHRs are fully functional and robust, but it's hard to predict the long-term viability of some of these companies.

1 comment:

  1. When considering the amount of money spent on software and hardware maintenance, free practice management is the way to go. I highly recommend which was featured as “The Facebook of Medical Records”