Free EMR/EHR Software vs. Standard License or Subscription License Models
There are a number of free EHR software systems on the market today—Practice Fusion™, for example. You may be wondering what makes products like these free.
These products are typically supported by ads from vendors interested in selling to the medical community. The ads are usually unobtrusive and designed not to get in the way of your workflow. As long as you don't mind the ads, this can be a great way of saving money on an EHR solution.
What are the limitations in free EHR software?"
Depending on the free EHR you choose there may or may not be limitations to the product. When you're evaluating an EHR, consider the features you'll need to support your medical practice and make sure the free EHR offers these features. The top features you'll want to consider include charting, customizable templates, e-prescribing, lab integration, scheduling, referrals, patient portals, reporting and integration with your existing billing software. If you are looking at an EHR that charges for any of these, they are not really free.
Is training and support free?
Training and support may be included in your free EHR, depending on which vendor you select. An established vendor like Practice Fusion typically provides live support by phone and email, in addition to free live training, on demand webinars and videos to help you get started. Again, if a company tells you they charge for support or training, they are not truly free.
Will I have to pay any set-up costs?
Traditional paid EHR solutions may charge for additional hardware and set-up costs, on top of the subscription cost for the EHR itself. Many EHRs that are web-based don't charge for implementation, including the free EHR solutions.
Are these products Meaningful Use certified?
Like their paid counterparts, some free EHRs are fully-featured and certified for achieving Meaningful Use. Before signing up, check that the EHR you have chosen is ONC-ATCB certified as a complete EHR and that their certification is current.
What is different about paid alternatives?
Often it is a simple matter of preference. Paid alternatives may have features that are more effective for large, well-financed practices or highly-specialized providers. Free alternatives often have the benefit of being easier to use and more responsive to user needs. It's always worthwhile to consider which options you need and what each solution offers.
Can I remove the ads in a free EHR system?
If you find the ads distracting, some vendors allow you to remove the ads by paying a monthly fee, typically in the range of $100 per physician.
Will free EHRs sell any of my data?
Legitimate free EHR companies will provide explicit, legally-binding guarantees that sensitive patient data will not be sold for any reason. Data may be used for public health research purposes. Legitimate EHRs will ensure that all research information used is fully de-identified and compliant with standards set HIPAA to fully respect patient privacy.
EHR-Only Implementation – Sample Comparison (monthly fees per provider)
$250-$450 per month per provider (Average EHR paid subscription services)
$0 (Free EHR services - $100/month without ads)
These costs may not include certain billing/practice management components. 4Medapproved's certified IT/EHR consultant team can give you an unbiased opinion on your best options considering your specific needs—from both a pricing and productivity perspective. Our SSG team will create a basic summary of your existing systems, your expectations and your timeline. They will assist in setting up software demos, creating hardware estimates and providing knowledgeable advice.
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Last updated: June 25, 2013
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