The Latest on Free EHR Experiences

Free is awfully hard to compete with.

We track our sales to understand when we lose, whom we lose to, and why.  We are fortunate that we don’t often lose once we do a demonstration of our easy to use EHR.  When we do lose, the EHR vendor we lose to most often is a free EHR, hereafter referred to as “FB EHR” (sort of a play on FB for Facebook because it is probably the best known free software).

We recently signed a new customer who wanted to try FB EHR before paying for an EHR like Sevocity. Who can blame them when it’s free?!?

Here is what they experienced:

  • The provider had to pass a credit check to enable eRx – the process gave her limited time and she could not complete the form in time.  The solution was to email support and have FB EHR reset the form.  FB EHR support never got back with her.
  • The practice’s administrator got locked out of the system and they contacted FB EHR support via email – no answer for 5 days.
  • The provider tried at one point to communicate via FB EHR’s support chat and saw firsthand how long it would take every single time they needed something.
  • The practice’s administrator read on FB EHR’s message boards that patients would receive emails asking them to review their visit.  Patients commonly thought these surveys were coming from the practice and would be seen only by the office.  Such was not the case and the potential existed for a patient to reveal PHI on a public review site.
  • It appeared that information on a preference to use one medication over another, including 3rd party information, was being shared with drug companies

As a businessperson, I understand the allure of free products and services. However, EHRs are costly to build and maintain and no EHR company will stay in business indefinitely without at least breaking even. To stay in business I believe “free” EHRs will have to find other ways to make money. They may start charging their customers, cutting corners, selling valuable data, or some combination of these tactics.

As the old adage says: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you’re not paying for it, you (or your patient) are the product.

C. Huddle, Chief Marketing Officer