Within the medical field, there has been a need to streamline and organize medical records. Technology has helped with this endeavor by developing EHR software that can be incorporated into your medical office. There are many different options available, including free versions, but not all of them are created equal.
While you may be hoping to save some money by incorporating the free software into your practice, this may end up costing you in the long run. Below are some of the reasons why “free” EHR software may not be the best choice.
One of the ways that vendors can offer you free software is because they rely on advertising revenues to pay their costs. It is an incredibly simple and common way for a tech service not to have to charge its users. That also means that when you use this software, you, your staff, and your patients will be subjected to ads.
Seeing ads is something that happens no matter what type of electronic device you use, and if you are like most people, you have figured out how to ignore them. The issue comes with how the ads are targeted. When you see ads on your phone or laptop, data is mined from your browsing and shopping history, and then you are shown ads based on your habits and interests.
When it comes to ads on your records software, these get targeted to your patients by scanning their health data. Right now, there are no laws that prohibit this type of ad targeting, but it should bring up concerns about your patient’s medical information being mined. Also, it could lead to HIPAA violations, which could open up your practice to fines.
Pay to Play
Ads aren’t the only way that vendors of free software are making sure they get paid for their services. Another option they employ is the pay to play. The way this works is that your practice won’t be charged anything to use the software, but your patients will have to pay fees to access their information.
It should go without saying that expecting your patients to pay to access their medical information isn’t a good idea. Not only does this create a bad relationship, but it may also mean that they refuse to pay for the service. If you are looking for a way to reduce resentment and stop your patients from finding another physician, then you might want to consider not adding the pay-to-play software to your business.
Patient Data for Sale
One of the most common “free” software options that exist is the one where vendors generate revenue by selling the data they have mined from the user—and that includes information they get from your patients’ medical records.
More often than not, these vendors sell this information to third parties and generate a hefty profit. Thus, while it may seem like it is genuinely free to you and your patients, there is still cost involved. It could come in the form of HIPAA violations and fines or the loss of patients because of the misuse of data.
Finding the Right Software Vendor
While adding free EHR software to your practice might seem like the best way to save money, it could end up costing you more than you bargained for. The best course of action is to work with qualified vendors to find a plan that will work for your budget and your needs.