Free EMR – You wish!

Over 800 EMR vendors are present in the healthcare industry today, each boasting that their EMR software is the most certified and innovative product in th…

Over 800 EMR vendors are present in the healthcare industry today, each boasting that their EMR software is the most certified and innovative product in the market that will re-vitalize and optimize any  practice setting, and they support that notion with a hefty price tag. However when you see a product that says its completely free, there is no charge whatsoever and no hidden costs, it simply catches the eye. You will go through their website and see free EMR squeezed into every web page they have. You can Google them as much as you want to search for any hidden charges, but you won’t find any.

So does that mean that there is actually a Free EMR software? Yes, to some extent. The EMR could be free but there always has to be a catch. Every practice which has an EMR or are about to implement one have special needs, so they would generally look for an EMR software that caters to them. The problem with a free EMR is that probably it cannot cater to any specific practice requirements. Such an EMR is what I would like to call an EMR software skeleton.

Let’s shed some light on this. A free EMR is like buying an iphone, which is of no worth to you unless you start buying countless apps and customize it as per your needs. Instead of the EMR defining everything for you, you would have to define your own EMR, as if you didn’t have enough on your plate. The only thing you need to keep your fingers crossed for is hoping that they have requisite apps (templates, consent forms, etc) which you need. Unlike the iphone, the free EMR doesn’t have crazy fan followers who sit at home and keep coming up with new apps. If they don’t have the tools you need then just request it, and then cross your fingers on the other hand to hope they fulfill it. Majority of free electronic medical records that are available in the market don’t even support the request feature. What you see is what you get; an EMR software skeleton to put next to the physical skeleton you have in your office.

The nature of an EMR is to eliminate the use of paper in a practice. A free EMR does have that capability but comes with a few drawbacks, which makes a medical expert want to discard it. One such drawback is the numerous ads which cannot be disabled. Most of these ads are from pharmaceutical companies, so a medical expert might encounter a situation where an exotic ad is being displayed in the middle of the prostate exam. How very convenient.

In a nutshell, a free EMR that caters to all practice needs would only exist in a perfect world. As the cliché goes, there is no such thing as a free meal (EMR).