In the healthcare IT industry, one usually gets to hear about numerous updates every single day. Recently, the increasing hype of free Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) caught my attention. Upon discussing it with my colleague, we concluded that the concept of a ’free of cost’ EMR has allowed several vendors to capture the market share. As a result, other EMR vendors are trying hard to influence the market somehow.
However, the important question is, if vendors are providing free EMRs, where in the world are they generating revenues from? Well, there are two answers to this question. They make revenues either through advertisements or by providing health information to healthcare bodies. In order to keep patient privacy intact, the details in the data are masked. Nevertheless, the concerns of any unwarranted disclosures cannot be easily wiped away from the minds of people.
’Imagine the extent of discomfort it brings when your physician informs you that your details are to be exchanged so that money could be saved through his free EMR’, says a Nevada based healthcare IT consultant.
The so called ’free’ EMR solutions come with a fine print. The number of training and support hours offered by these vendors is insufficient for even advanced users to comprehensively understand the solution. This means that in order to make the most of the application, the provider ends up incurring additional costs for a solution that was promised to be free. As mentioned by some of the providers, yet another flaw with free electronic medical records is that such solutions do not offer complete functionality. Usually they do not provide built-in practice management modules or a patient portal. So ultimately, you end up buying them from another vendor or from the same vendor but at additional costs.
’Although the idea of free EMRs might attract all of us, it is not until you implement the solution that you get to know about the fallacy. Seriously, the limited features and the glitches make you reconsider your decision’, says a Texas based annoyed physician.
It is important to realize that EMRs are implemented to ensure patient safety while helping physicians enhance productivity. Although these electronic medical records might offer free documentation, the lack of complementary components in the package deteriorates the main purpose of the solution.
While free EMR vendors are trying to keep up with other established vendors, they still have a long way to go. This is because these vendors are still in the initial phase, trying to figure out how to make the model work more efficiently. Ideally, free EMRs should come with a warning ’ implement at your own risk and cost!