in HIPAA Headlines by John Brewer

I just read a post at Healthcare Technology Online called The Truth Behind “free” EHRs.

I posted a response to this article on their site, but it is still waiting to be reviewed before it goes live.

I the mean time, I’ll give a synopsis and my feeling on the topic.

The above mentioned article talks specifically about  2 different free EHRs: Practice Fusion and Hello Health.

To summarize:

Practice Fusion has a goal of generating revenue by selling ads that show in the interface, similar to Gmail.

The Hello Health plan is to have patients pay from $30 to $120 per year for access, which in turn will support the system.

My response?  I don’t get it.

The first bit of wackiness is this: Can you believe that Meaningful Use reimbursements do not take into account how much a practice actually spent on standing up an EHR?  I mean…really, you can spend essentially $ZERO and still have the ability to get the full $44,000 Meaningful Use reimbursement.  Somebody must have overlooked this possibility.

Ad Supported EHR

My gut feeling on an ad supported EHR is it will fail.  I can hear it now: OK folks, we are using this EHR, just ignore the ads.  Plus, as a patient, how would you feel if you saw the doc click on an ad in the middle of writing up your patient notes?

Not only might you be sitting there even longer…let’s hope he didn’t lose his train of thought as he was about to put that critical item in your record.

Patient Supported EHR

I can’ t figure out how some of these ideas actually get implemented, other than the fact that there is investor money that will go toward about any idea.  So, you want the patients to pay for the doc to use a business critical piece of software?  Huh.

How does this get approached…let me think:
Doc: “Ok, so you have your co-pay and here is what it will cost you so I can use this free EHR.”
Patient: “You just said free EHR, why do I have to pay?”
Doc: “Well, it is free to me, you see I have payment on my BMW, student loans, and…well the country club.”
Patient: “Didn’t you just attest for Stage 1 Meaningful Use and collect $18,000?”
Doc: “Uh, I already used that as a down payment on a plane…”


As the EHR industry matures, there will be consolidation.  There will also be straight up failings.

I have trouble believing either of these models will work.  My guess is docs who are early implementers of these may get a free ride for a while, but eventually they’ll either have to start paying, or enjoy the switch to another EHR.

Either way, it strikes me as a risky way to go.

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